Summary: Everyone needs a storm shelter! Will you be a "city of refuge"?
GIMME A BREAK
Where do you go when the bottom drops out? Or when destruction comes on you like a flood? Where do you go when the hurricane hits? Or when the hurricane gets personal, or embarrassing, or scandalous?
Who really cares enough to listen when we cry? Who affirms us when we really feel rotten? Who will close their mouths and open their hearts?
Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28 NKJ) While I believe that with all my heart, people need storm shelters to which they can run and hide. Just knowing Jesus will be there when we are hurting may not be enough to really bring the healing. We need a conveyor of hope, a place of safety, arms to hold us and hands to lift us up.
A little boy was about to receive an inoculation. His fear increased as he viewed that needle which seemed to be a foot long. His mother tried to reassure him. “Billy, just close your eyes and remember that Jesus is with you.” To which he replied, Right now, I could sure use a Jesus with skin on!”
People who are hurting are looking for a Jesus with skin on! Someone who can help you, listen to you, introduce you to “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles...” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV) They need to know that God really does care by seeing Him care through you and me. They need a REFUGE! In fact, verse 4 says that God comforts us so that we “can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God!” Then thoise who are hurting will find it easier to come out of their labors and out from under their “heavy-ladenness” and come to Jesus!
As the People of God headed to the land of promise, God told them that they were to provide places of shelter, cities of refuge, for those who were in need, those who were afraid because something bad had happened to them which was not their fault.
Have you ever been there? Do you know someone who has?
1 Then the LORD said to Joshua:
2 "Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses,
3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.
Characteristics of a CITY OF REFUGE:
1) A Place of Protection (Joshua 20:3)
3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. (NIV)
The cities of Refuge were provided so that people in trouble were to be protected from violent outbursts of avengers bent on retaliation if a relative or friend was injured or killed without malice aforethought. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was the law of the day and it was easy for folk to take matters into their own hands.
So the Lord had the Israelites to establish CITIES OF REFUGE to protect and assist the fugitive until the offense could be settled properly.
Are we a CITY OF REFUGE? Are we a place where the fearful can find rest? Do we provide protection to the fallen?
Bruce Larson and Keith Miller in the book, The Edge of Adventure, said:
“The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give His church. It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and to be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.”
2) Strategically Positioned for easy accessibility (Deut. 19:2, 3)
2 then set aside for yourselves three cities centrally located in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess.
3 Build roads to them and divide into three parts the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, so that anyone who kills a man may flee there.
Each city of Refuge was positioned so that you could get there easily. One Old Testament Scholar said that it was the Sanhedrin’s responsibility to keep the roads leading to the Cities of Refuge in the best possible repair. The ground the road would take had to be leveled so that no hills or valley would hinder the progress of the fugitive. The road was to be a wide road (at least 48 feet wide). At every turn, signs were to be posted bearing the word “Refuge”!