Summary: From Deut. 19:1-13, parallels how God is our refuge, and we must run to Him (firefighter theme).
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.
These cities of refuge needed to be within easy reach. They had to be centrally located so that a person could have time to flee to these cities, by foot (usually). [PICTURE FOR SLIDESHOW] Not only did they have to be close, but the path had to be regularly maintained, it had to be clear of all hindrances or impediments, and it had to be clearly marked, with clear direction on how to get to the city.
When conducting fire inspections two important things that I look for are AREAS OF REFUGE (protected area in a bldg., such as mall/hospital halls, wings, sectioned off) and MEANS OF EGRESS (clearly marked, unobstructed, visible path, door width, adequate number).
[NIGHTCLUB FIRE DEATHS BANGKOK,THAILAND, COCOANUT CREEK]
Bangkok, Thailand- New Years Eve club fire…killing at least 61 people as they stampeded to escape the raging flames. More than 200 were injured, including 35 foreigners…Victims died from burns, smoke inhalation and injuries during the stampede from the club, which had only one door for the public, police Maj. Gen. Chokchai Deeprasertwit said. Firefighters said a door at the rear was known only to the staff, while an Associated Press reporter saw a third door at one side of the building.
Cocoanut Grove- The Cocoanut Grove was a nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts. On November 28, 1942, the fashionable nightclub burned in what remains the deadliest nightclub fire in United States history, killing 492 people and injuring hundreds more. It is also the second-worst single-building fire in American history…As is common in panic situations, many patrons attempted to exit through the main entrance, the same way they had come in. However, the building’s main entrance was a single revolving door, immediately rendered useless as the panicked crowd scrambled for safety. Bodies piled up behind both sides of the revolving door, jamming it to the extent that firefighters had to dismantle it in order to get inside. Other avenues of escape were similarly useless: side doors had been welded shut to prevent people from leaving without settling their bills. A plate glass window, which could have been smashed for escape, was instead boarded up and unusable as an emergency exit. Other unlocked doors opened inwards, rendering them useless against the crush of people trying to escape. Bartender Daniel Weiss and entertainer Goody Goodelle survived the Melody Lounge. By dousing a cloth napkin with a pitcher of water, Weiss was able to escape by crawling through the kitchen and other subfloor areas. Goodelle and several other employees were able to escape by crawling through a barred window in the kitchen. Five survived by taking refuge in a walk-in refrigerator. Fire officials later testified that, had the doors swung outwards, at least 300 lives could have been spared.