Place of Refuge

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Place of Refuge
 
Devotion In Motion
Morning Inspiration
 
Joshua 20″1-6
 I’m sure most of us know the difference between first degree murder and manslaughter. Murder in the first degree is a premeditated act with lethal intent. Manslaughter is an unintentional or accidental taking of another human life. In ancient times if you were guilty of manslaughter the family of the victim had the right to avenge their brother’s death… They could chase you down and kill you in cold blood… You were a target… You lived your life looking over your shoulder. 
 
 It reminds me of the two guys walking through the forest, when a hungry bear jumped out of the woods. One guy pulls off his backpack – takes off his heavy hiking boots – and starts to lace up his Nike sneakers… His buddy laughs, “Tennis shoes won’t make you faster than that bear.” As the guy ties his laces he answers, “I don’t have to be faster than the bear. All I’ve got to do is outrun you!” 
 
In Old Testament times it literally came down to a race between the avenger and the slayer… which guy was faster on foot. The Law of Moses provided protection for the person guilty of an accidental murder. In Numbers 35 the Lord had told Moses when Israel enters the land they are to set up certain cities as safe havens for the manslayer. These cities were 1 called “cities of refuge”. They could run to one of these cities and be safe. Joshua enacts this law in chapter 20. 
 
Verse 1-6, “The LORD also spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there; and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And when he flees to one of those cities, and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand. And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled.'” 
 
 When a manslayer arrived at a city of refuge he reviewed his case with the city elders. If they believed his crime was unintentional they took him in. As long as he stayed in the city he was safe. If he went outside city limits he was fair game for an avenger. His dilemma continued until the death of the High Priest. Whether the priest lived to be 35 or 95 the slayer could return home – only upon his death. All this seems like such an archaic rule with little relevance for you and me… Until we study this provision as a type of Christ. Whenever you get lost trying to decipher a part of Scripture, always look for Jesus. 
 
In Hebrews 10:7 Jesus said, “In the volume of the Book it is written of Me.” Jesus is on every page of this Book. And here is a classic example… In a sense, all sin is murder. The wages of sin is death. When you sin you take your own life. You initiate a slow suicide. We need a place to run when we sin where we can find a safe haven, and avoid the consequences of our sin. Jesus is that place of refuge. As long as we’re in Christ we’re forgiven – we’re safe from judgment. When we sin we need to run to Jesus as fast as we can. According to Jewish tradition the roads leading to the cities of refuge were kept cleared and passable. Bridges remained open. Signs with large letters which read, “Miklac”, or “refuge”, marked the way. 
 
Everything was done to make it as easy as possible for the guilty party to find his way to a place of safety and refuge. And in parallel this is our job… God wants us to make it as easy as possible for people to come to Christ. Our job is to keep the road cleared of misconceptions – the bridges of understanding open. Our lives should be huge road signs pointing people to Jesus Christ. There are at least 8 other parallels between Jesus and the cities of refuge… The gates were never locked, and the way to Jesus is never barred. As long as you were inside the city you were safe, if you left you were on your own. The same is true with Jesus. 
 
We need to continue to abide in Christ. You had to pick up and leave all your possessions to come. Likewise, to follow Jesus you have to leave behind anything that rivals your devotion to Him. Refuge was available, but you had to come. The same is true with Jesus. Once inside the city there were plenty of provisions. Likewise, all that a human heart might need to be satisfied is found in fellowship with Jesus. The cities of refuge were established in advance. Likewise Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world. He too was chosen beforehand to save us. 
 
 According to Numbers 35:15, strangers and Gentiles, as well as Jews, were welcomed to come to the cities of refuge – just as they are in Christ Jesus. And the death of the High Priest granted total freedom. And it’s because of the death of our High Priest, It’s only in Jesus, that we receive a permanent pardon.
At the cross Jesus becomes our refuge, our place of rest.
 
Are you tired of running–Then come to Jesus. 
 
Amen
  
Victor Tafoya
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