The book of Deuteronomy is such an awesome book to read and study! I never was a big fan of the Old Testament, but I became one as I recently did a study of the book of Deuteronomy. The reason this book is so great is that it contains all the information for living a blessed, Christian life. Deuteronomy is filled with promises of blessing for God’s people (which we are as Christians); as well as, advice that can be practically applied to our lives.
DEUT. 19: 1-13 (read scripture)
In sermon preparation they tell you it’s a good idea to get your sermon down to one sentence, your main point. This morning that sentence is this…
“God is our refuge and salvation, run to Him.”
This is what I want to reveal to you this morning. Just as these cities were an area of refuge for the Israelites, God is our refuge. I want to share some the lessons from this scripture that apply, practically, to us today.
These cities were not just places to come to for a visit or a picnic. The purpose of these cities was for the one who inadvertently committed manslaughter (accidental death, car accident, etc.). If you were out working in the fields and there was some accident and your neighbor was killed, you could flee to these cities. If you made it to the city you would have an opportunity for a fair trial. This is important in light of Israelite cultures and customs. If your family member was killed it was the responsibility of the closest relative to avenge the death in the family, the “avenger of blood” (v. 6) (this is the same position referred to as the kinsman-redeemer in the book of Ruth, this is a “negative” responsibility of the kinsman-redeemer or the original language, go’el). The avenger of blood, in his anger, might not care about a fair trial, and would pursue the one who committed the murder and kill him, not knowing that it was an accident, thus shedding innocent blood.
Theses cities were a place to flee to for safety, cities of refuge. After the murderer got to the city his case was examined by the elders. If it was found that the murder was premeditated, the murderer would be put out of the city and handed over to this “avenger of blood”. However, if the elders found that the murder was done in innocents, the murderer could stay in the city. As long as he remained within the city he was safe, and could live out a full life their, but if he was to ever leave the city he was no longer protected, and would be at the mercy of the “avenger of blood”. Also, the innocent murderer could leave the city safely upon the death of the High Priest.
WEBSTERS DEF. OF REFUGE
1. shelter or protection from danger, trouble, etc.: to take refuge from a storm.
2. a place of shelter, protection, or safety.
3. anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape.
Throughout my life a refuge, a place of safety, or protection has taken many different forms. I remember my earliest idea of refuge…
[CHILDHOOD REFUGE- DAD IN ROOM, HEAD UNDER BLANKETS]
1. (v. 3) Here we see God’s guidelines for the location of these cities.