Summary: Christ is our refuge!
Cities of Refuge
Rev. John W. Gerald
I. The Law of the Cities of Refuge
Numbers 35:25 And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.
Numbers 35:26 But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled;
The slayer is a type of the sinner. We are not safe outside our "Refuge," which is Christ!
Numbers 35:27 And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood:
In Semitic lands if a man were slain, it was regarded as the duty of his nearest relative to avenge his blood. Almost no distinction was made between accidental and intentional killing. The right of asylum was only for those who had taken a life unintentionally. Willful murderers were not provided with a refuge. The revenger may kill a person who had killed another person, if he was found outside of his refuge. Christ is our refuge.
Numbers 35:28 Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.
Our High Priest is Christ! We have found refuge in Him from the avenger of blood. He has died for our sins. We are therefore safe as long as we remain in Him.
Numbers 35:32 And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.
The sinner can not buy his way
out of this situation. No satisfaction may be taken to release him from this provision. He must abide by the provisions of the law. He must remain in his "city of refuge" until the specified time, the death of the high priest.
II. Who Qualifies for Protection in the Cities of Refuge
Joshua 20:1 The LORD also spake unto Joshua, saying,
2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses:
3 That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.
A. The Slayer Declares His Cause
4 And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them.
5 And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver the slayer up into his hand; because he smote his neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not beforetime.
B. The Congregation Judges Him
6 And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.
III. The Cities of Refuge
Six Cities of Refuge - Three on the east and three on the west side of Jordan
7 And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.
8 And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh.
9 These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.
The slayer is judged as to whether he qualifies to take refuge in the city of refuge. If he is found to be innocent of premeditated murder, the avenger of blood may still take vengance on him if he is not found in the city of refuge. The city of refuge was established for those who killed another person unintentionally. The city would offer him no protection if he is found guilty of premeditated murder.