Sunday, December 16, 2012

7 parallels between cities of refuge and Jesus Christ

Hebrews 6:18-20 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Quick Review
Yesterday we looked at the cities of refuge spoken of in Numbers 35, Deueronomy 19 and Joshua 20.  Cities of refuge were appointed by God for Israel as she was getting ready to enter into the promised land. Being over 2 million people in size, it was an inevtiability that someone would accidently kill another, as for example in Deuteronomy 19 when mention is made of two friends chopping wood in a forest, and the axe head flying off the handle of the one and mortally wounding his friend.  The Bible calls those who accdiently killed another person a "manslayer".  The manslayer would need to run to the nearest vity of refuge to escape the relative of the victim who had the legal right to avenge their blood, called by the Bible "an avenger".

Connecting Old and New Testaments through Jesus Christ
Whenever we see a theological or doctrinal truth spoken of in the Old Testament, and find the same idea spoken of in the New Testament and connect both together through Jesus Christ, we can gain riches for Christian understanding. In today's blog I want to note seven parallels between the teaching on the cities of refuge and the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ - the Divine Refuge

Seven parallels between cities of refuge and Jesus Christ, the Divine Refuge
1. The City of Refuge was the place to flee. 
In Numbers 35:6 we see that if a manslayer had accidently or unintentionally killed another person, the only proper course of action was for them to flee to the nearest city of refuge.  Hestitation was not an option, the best time to flee was at the moment.  For those whop don't know Christ as Savior, when hearing that they are under the wrath of God, the best time to trust in Jesus is now.  In Hebrews 6:18-20, as we saw at the beginning of today's blog, Jesus Christ is the One to whom the sinner must flee to escape the wrath of God.  For the saint of God who has trusted in Christ, Jesus is the place of refuge to abide in times of trouble. 

2. The Avenger could legally slay the manslayer
The law of retribution was in place in ancient Israel.  The shedding of another's blood, even if done accidentally, was still viewed as making the land and the people unclean. (compare Genesis 9:6)  God made provision for the manslayer to escape what was otherwise the law of justice.  For everyone one of us born into this world, we had not merely committed unintentional acts of sin, but very intentional acts of sin, resulting in us falling short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)  The Law of God is the sinner's avenger, demanding the death of sinner in light of God's Justice. 

3. The City of Refuge was the only place of refuge
According to Numbers 35:11, the appointed cities were the only locations wherein the manslayer could seek protection from the Avenger.  Jesus Himsellf reveals in John 14:6 - "I am the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father but through me."

4.  The cities of refuge were close by and easily accessible
Numbers 35:13 tells us that there were to be six cities of refuge - three on each side of the Jordon River where the Jews would eventually cross into the Promised Land.  Romans 5:1-2 reveals how easily accessible Christ the Divine refuge is: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God."

5. The the cities of refuge were for the Jews and Gentiles
Everyone had opportunity to flee to these cities.  Romans 1:16-17 explains the provision of Divine refuge through the Gospel: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

6. The cities of refuge were an assylum for the manslayer until the death of the high priest
According to Numbers 35:25-26, once the elders of each of these cities had determined that the manslayers had indeed committed their acts unintentionally, assylum was granted until the reigning High Priest of Israel had died.  Once the High Priest had died, the manslayer could return back to his hometown, no longer termed by the law of retribution a manslayer.  Romans 8:1-2 states: "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death."  Jesus Christ the High Priest had given His life, thus all who by grace through faith trust in Him are set free from the condemnation of the Law.  Moreover, since He has risen from the dead, unlike the Old Covenant, He as the New Covenant High Priest lives forever to defend every child of God. (1 John 2:1-2, Hebrews 7:24-25)

7. Outside the city of refuge, there is no chance of escape
What would happen if the manslayer wandered outside the city of refuge?  According to the testimony of scripture, he would die if he fell into the hands of the avenger.  Remember, outside of Jesus Christ, the Divine Refuge, there is no hope, no remedy of escape.  You could not pay off the avenger in Ancient Israel, and you cannot pay of the condemnation of the Law against you.  You have to trust by faith in Jesus Christ the Divine refuge.  He paid for your sins with His life and He desires to represent you before His Father as a result of His resurrection.  1 Thessalonians 1:10 reminds us: "For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come."

May the Lord bless you today dear reader as you consider Jesus Christ, the Divine Refuge for the sinner to flee and the Divine refuge for the saint to abide. 


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