Numbers 35, also Joshua 20
During the days of Moses and Joshua, the method of carrying out vengeance
was different than today. Today we depend entirely on our Judiciary system
to satisfy our need for justice when someone does us wrong.
the way; the word "vengeance" is not an ugly word, as some
would portray it to be. I mention that because today that word so often
carries with in an evil connotation, which should not always be the
case. In fact, in Romans 12:19, God says, "...vengeance is mine: I
will repay, saith the Lord," so we know it is not evil. God said,
"...vengeance is mine..." and we know that God is a holy God.
simple definition of vengeance is: "The punishment in retaliation
for an injury or offense."
we do have to be careful about becoming vindictive. There are some
people who have no chance of ever having any happiness in this life
because they are so vindictive. Often they are like snakes; curled up,
ready to strike back if anyone steps on them. While we understand it is
wrong to be vindictive, we also know during the days when Moses and
Joshua were alive they did not depend entirely on a judiciary system to
right all wrongs. For those who accidentally wronged, or hurt someone,
there was no "court."
Suppose we could travel back in time to that day. Suppose I was out in
the woods with one of your "kinsmen." Also suppose it was a
known fact that he and I were not the best of friends. Then suppose,
as we are cutting wood, the ax head slipped off the handle of my ax
and struck your kinsman and killed him. You could not know if I had
killed him on purpose, or if it had been an accident.
I had killed him on purpose then it would be your responsibility to
find me and kill me for what I had done.
at Numbers 35:19. We read, "The revenger of blood himself shall
slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall SLAY HIM."
some of these deaths were not of malice, nor planned in any way, God
appointed certain cities to be "cities of refuge." Any person
who accidentally killed anyone could flee to one of these cities and as
long as he met certain conditions he would be safe from any avenger.
at Numbers 35:11. We read, "Then ye shall appoint you cities to be
cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which
killeth any person at unawares." God appointed three of these
cities on the other side of Jordan and three in the land of Canaan. They
were to be clearly marked and easy to find for those who had to flee to
intersections, large signs were erected which simply said,
"Refuge" that pointed toward the city.
were built over ravines so one could get there, and the cities were
always stocked with food and water.
person who fled to a city of refuge would be looking for a place to
rest, to work things out, to be safe, and to be accepted and loved.
who fled to these cities also were seeking a place where people would
listen and not think their stories were stupid, because they had been
through the same things.
man could flee to one of these six cities and remain safe until he stood
before the congregation of judgment. Look at Numbers 35:15. We read,
"And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have
for refuge. Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three
cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of
refuge. These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of
Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that
every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither." The
six cities of refuge were types of the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, the
person who killed someone by accident could flee to one of these six
cities and be safe from anyone who would avenge the death of the one he
killed. You may not know this, but I think perhaps you do; that Mr.
Death is hot on the trail of you today who do not know Christ. The only
hope you have of surviving is to come to Christ before Death gets you.
He stalks the trail of every lost person. He is trying, even now, to get
his hands on everyone before he can come to Christ for salvation.
Lord Jesus is our ultimate "refuge" and he offers us shelter
and protection. The Lordís church is a place where people, who had
once been in sin, gather. All had faced a common dilemma.
six cities that Moses and Joshua had appointed as cities of refuge
reveal something about our place of refuge in Christ. For example, look
at Josh 20:3, "That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and
unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the
avenger of blood." What is Godís Word saying? Again, It is saying
that if a man kills another man accidentally, he can flee to one of the
six cities and the avenger, who seeks to destroy him, cannot if he
enters that city.
if that man is going to be saved, he must move. There must be an
ADVANCEMENT on his part. The person who has killed another accidentally
MUST ADVANCE. He must move from where he is to the city of refuge.
verse 3 says that the SLAYER must FLEE THITHER. This tells me that God
was saying that the slayer couldnít waste any time. He MUST FLEE
because when the dead manís brother comes and see this man has killed
his brother, it is his responsibility to shed the killerís blood. God
said the killer must FLEE as fast as he can to the nearest city of
refuge. This is a picture of the case of every sinner. Lost person, it
is your responsibility to flee to the Lord Jesus before Mr. Death gets
you! Godís Word says, "...knock, and it shall be opened unto
you." It is your responsibility to FLEE to the Savior and
"knock" on heavenís gate, and ask Him to save you, that is,
seek the Savior as your place of refuge. Jesus said, "Come unto me
and I will give you rest." The Bible teaches that it is the
responsibility of every lost man and woman to FLEE unto the Lord Jesus.
Jesus did not tell you to stand around and say, "I am sorry for
what I have done. Let me go down to the florist and order some
He did not tell you to say, "I am sorry for what I have done, but
I have company coming. As soon as they leave I will leave to go to the
city of refuge."
He did not tell you to say, "I am so sorry for what I have done,
but I am so tired. I think I will lay down and take a nap and when I
wake up I will flee to Hebron."
He did not tell you that because He knew that while you would be doing
those things the avenger might catch you and might take a
"knife" and "plunge it into your heart."
told the man of Old Testament days that if he accidentally offended
anyone he was to FLEE because his avenger would be hot on his trail and
the only hope he had was to get to that city of refuge before the
avenger got to him!
Lost Man, let me tell you -- you can waste time if you want to, but
there is coming a time when Mr. Death is going to sneak up on you and
you will have no idea he is around the corner and is going to get you
before you have a chance to get to Christ!
have left church saying, "I plan to get saved soon," but they
put it off and kept putting it off. Finally they went to sleep one night
and woke up in hell.
have said, "I am going to accept the Lord one day soon," but
they sit back in their easy chair and before they could take a deep
breath they had a heart attack and landed in hell.
Lost man, the Bible teaches it is your responsibility, and the
responsibility of all others like you, to flee as fast as you can to the
Savior. You can never know...
The next breath you take may be your last.
The next heartbeat may be the last.
Death is hot on your trail. If he gets you before you come to Christ,
Satan has you for eternity!
ago it was the responsibility of the man who accidentally killed anyone
to FLEE before the AVENGER could get to him.
must make an ADVANCEMENT TOWARD THAT CITY OF REFUGE! Jesus said to those
who rejected Him that they would not come to Him that they might have
life. But notice something else the killer had to do. We have seen THE
ADVANCEMENT. Also look at ...
at Joshua 20:4, "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." When the guilty man got to the gate he had to
ADMIT that he had killed a man. He had to say, "I ADMIT I have
killed a man. I did not mean to do it, but I did it! The avenger of
blood is on my trail; you have to let me in. I need help!"
the guilty man not only had to FLEE TO THE CITY, but once he got there,
he had to ADMIT what he had done.
Bible says that when he arrived he had to, "...declare his cause in
the ears of the elders of that city..." That is, HE HAD TO CONFESS
THAT HE HAD KILLED A MAN! God considers confession and cleansing to be
Did you know - In 1842 the first bathtub was denounced as a
"luxurious and democratic vanity." Boston declared it
unlawful to bathe, except on doctorís prescription. In 1843
Philadelphia made bathing illegal between November 1, and March 15.
was a day when people, because of ignorance, thought that taking a bath
would cause death. But listen, getting cleaned up PHYSICALLY and
SPIRITUALLY has never hurt anyone!
tragic it is that many Christians have adopted a similar schedule of
spiritual cleansing. We would rather put up with the stench of our
unconfessed sins than come clean before God! Confession, or admitting
sin, is something Godís Word teaches, but some of the confessing we
have today is not what God had in mind. For example:
It is a well known fact that Catholics have "confession."
That is, they tell a "Father" of their sins. All too often,
they go out and commit the same sins over and over again.
Speaking of confession, there was a cartoon in the Saturday Review of
Literature several years ago in which little George Washington was
standing with an ax in his hand. Before him, lying on the ground was
the famous cherry tree. He had already made his smug admission that he
had done it -- after all, he "...cannot tell a lie." But,
his father was standing there, exasperated, saying, "All right,
so you admit it! You always admit it! The question is, when are you
going to stop doing it."
is an old saying about people having "skeletons in their
closets," but we wonder, if all the skeletons of sin people in
churches are hiding were suddenly revealed, it would be shocking. HOW
WELL WE HIDE OUR SINS!
is hard to admit a sin -- isnít it husbands? Isn't it wives? Isnít
Once, when Frederick II, an eighteenth century King of Prussia, went
on an inspection tour of a Berlin prison, he was greeted with the
cries of prisoners who fell on their knees and protested their unjust
imprisonment. While listening to these pleas of innocence,
Frederickís eyes caught a solitary figure in the corner, a prisoner
seemingly unconcerned with all the commotion.
are you here?" Frederick asked him.
robbery, Your Majesty," came the reply.
you guilty?" the king asked.
yes indeed, Your Majesty. I entirely deserve my punishment." At
that Frederick summoned the jailer. "Release this guilty man at
once," he said. "I will not have him kept in this prison
where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy
Bible said it was the responsibility of the guilty man to ADVANCE TO THE
CITY OF REFUGE and once there, he was to ADMIT his guilt. There was the
ADVANCEMENT, ADMISSION, but also ...
Bible says, once the guilty man reached the city of refuge, verse 4,
"...they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a
place, that he may dwell among them." This is what happens when a
sinner comes to Jesus. As a guilty sinner the Lord makes a place that he
may abide in Him. You will not find one account in this Bible of anyone
fleeing to one of the six cities of refuge and being denied entrance.
And you will find no record of Jesus turning a repentant sinner away.
Jesus said, John 6:37, "...and him that cometh to me I will in no
wise cast out."
at the word "dwell" in our text. When we come to Christ the
Bible tells us we ABIDE IN HIM. That is, we find a place to live, to
dwell. We do not "dwell" in Christ on Sunday and then slip
over the walls and live in sin during the week. In Christ we find a
place to DWELL!
have many today who have the mistaken idea that you can dwell in Christ
on Sunday and then "dwell" in sin during the week. They are
mistaken. Those who do this are NOT ABIDING IN JESUS. They do not know a
thing about ABIDING IN CHRIST!
The Christian life is an every-day dwelling in Christ. If you are not
willing to "dwell" in Him seven days a week, three hundred
and sixty-five days a year, you do not need to come to Him because He
is not going to let you in!
cities of refuge of old were not temporary refuges. They were permanent.
When you come to Christ, you should understand you are coming to a
permanent dwelling place. We have seen the ADVANCEMENT, the ADMISSION,
the ABIDING, but also look at...
at verse 6. We read, "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." How long was the guilty man to stay in the city of
refuge? The Bible says, Joshua 20:6, "And he shall dwell in that
city ... until the death of the high priest..." In other words, he
would probably be there a long time--" ...until the death of the
long are we to be "in Christ"? In the book of Hebrews we are
told that Christ is our "high priest."
were two kinds of priesthood during that time. One was the priesthood
Aaron. Those priests were replaced often, as there were frequent
Melchisedec. This is the order from which Christ, our high priest, has
come. Did you know that we have no record of Melchisedec, from where
he came, when he came, nor when he left? He is the perfect picture of
our high priest, the Lord Jesus. He had no beginning and has no
the man was to stay in the city until the death of the high priest! In
Numbers 35:27 we read, "And the revenger of blood find him without
the borders of the city of his refuge, the revenger of blood kill the
slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood." Now let us consider...
at verse 5. We read, "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."
The Bible says once the guilty person got inside the gate, when the
avenger came saying, "Let me have him. I am going to choke him to
death. Let me have him. I am going to turn him every way but
loose," he was turned away. The Bible says they were to tell the
avenger, "No, you can not have him. If you had gotten him before
he came into the gate he would have been yours, but since he is in the
gate you may not lay a hand on him!"
said in John 10:28, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they
shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my
avenger is barred from the city. He cannot lay a hand on us. Romans 8:1,
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ
Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
does it mean to be "IN CHRIST"? It means the same as it meant
to be on the ark when the flood covered the earth. Only those in the ark
were saved. It means the same as it meant to be in Rahabís house -- if
you were anywhere else you would perish. You had better get in before
the avenger gets you!
David said that there was but a step between himself and death.
Imagine a man who had accidentally killed a man and he was fleeing as
fast as he could! Right behind him was the avenger, gaining ground all
the time. The guilty man reached that city of refuge by only one step,
but did you know that the avenger still could not lay a hand on him!
was the way the thief who died on a cross when Jesus was dying got into
heaven. He barely made it, but thank the Lord he was able to make it!
lost person; you had better not put this thing off. Satan, the avenger,
is hot on your trail. He is right behind you. If he gets his hands on
you before you get to Christ, you will perish for eternity!
We are to STAY IN CHRIST, our high priest.
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