Summary: God foresees our needs. He provides for our needs, ahead of time, even before we see them. God provides by grace, not merit.
I want to share from both Chapter 20 and 21 today. Both chapters record God’s specific instructions given to Moses, and now for Joshua to follow through.
• God made specific provisions for two particular needs.
• Josh 20 – to designate 6 cities as cities of refuge, for those who killed someone accidentally and unintentionally.
• Josh 21 – to make provision for specific towns to be assigned to the Levites (the priests) because they are not given any inheritance.
[Read Joshua 20:1-6] THE CITIES OF REFUGE
God wants justice even for criminals, especially those who are caught killing someone in an accident. They are to be given a fair trial.
• So places of refuge need to be provided for these people to get immediate protection from the avengers, because in such situations, many will react rashly and seek revenge.
• The accused can run to these cities and seek refuge. And wait for a proper trial, given by the assembly of Levites who dwell in these cities.
• These cities are also the assigned cities where the Levites stay. God planned it that way.
The accused stays here until the death of the high priest, and then he is free to go.
• If the avenger kills the man while he is inside the city or outside when the high priest has already passed on, then he would himself become a murderer.
• If the avenger takes the man before he reached the city of refuge, it is seen as the accused having brought about his own downfall, and the case is considered closed.
God instructed that THREE cities to be designated on the EAST side of River Jordan and another THREE on the Western side.
• The cities are well-spread out throughout the land so that any accused can run to one as quickly as possible.
• In fact, Deut 19:3 tells us they are to BUILD ROADS TO THESE CITIES so that the fugitives can have easy access to them.
Remember that these instructions were given to Moses (Num 35) way before the Israelites entered Canaan.
• It was well thought-out and planned for because God is merciful. He protects the “innocent” manslayer from reckless vengeance. He saves his life.
• God cares enough to provide man with what He needs, ahead to time.
This physical provision reminds us of God’s greater provision – Jesus Christ.
• That’s an eternal refuge. In Christ, God gives us, not physical safety but eternal security, not our physical life but life eternal.
• We are forever secure only IN Christ. There is no salvation outside of Him.
• And freedom comes with the death of the high priest, the Israelites were taught. With Jesus’ death comes freedom from guilt and shame.
God provides. God provides what we need. God provides ahead of time.
Chapter 21 addresses another provision. God commanded through Moses that towns are to be set aside for the Levites, the priests.
[Read Joshua 21:1-3, 41] THE TOWNS FOR LEVITES
Every tribe was allotted their inheritance except the Levites. They were set apart for service in the tabernacle and to administer the sacrifices.
• As spiritual leaders providing guidance to the people, they are not to be distracted by the daily needs in the fields.
• Hence no specific territory is assigned to them. They are to stay in the towns designated, and again they are distributed throughout the land.
• The Levites, as priests, will live in the midst of the people to provide spiritual leadership and guidance.
So 48 towns are to be given the Levites, together with the pasturelands. Why the pasturelands? Where are they?
• Num 35:2-5 “And give them pasturelands around the towns. 3Then they will have towns to live in and pasturelands for their cattle, flocks and all their other livestock. 4"The pasturelands around the towns that you give the Levites will extend out fifteen hundred feet from the town wall. 5Outside the town, measure three thousand feet on the east side, three thousand on the south side, three thousand on the west and three thousand on the north, with the town in the center. They will have this area as pastureland for the towns.”
• Num 35:8 The towns you give the Levites from the land the Israelites possess are to be given in proportion to the inheritance of each tribe: Take many towns from a tribe that has many, but few from one that has few.”
• The tribe with a bigger land and more towns are to provide more for the Levities. It makes sense.
Can you see the extent God goes to, in making these arrangements? The instructions were precise and detailed. They were well thought-out.
• We read Leviticus and we know how detail God can be. Nothing is by random. They are planned and purposeful.