Cities of Refuge

Text: Numbers 35:9-34

In the text passage above, God commanded Moses to strategically set up six cities, three cities in the Land of Promise the land of their inheritance, three also in the land of the inheritance of Reuben and Gad and half of Manasseh on the other side of Jordan.  One of the major lessons we can learn from the topic above is about the thoughtfulness of Almighty God. The establishment of these cities was not the idea of Moses and Aaron the Priest. God our Creator knew that spontaneous tendency of revenge is inherent in mankind. Certainly man will do everything without thinking through to execute revenge against the murderer who killed a loved ones. Far ahead in the inheritance of the Israelites in the land of Promise the Lord God Almighty was thoughtful of the likely problems that can befall upon them. He establish these cities to take care of those issues even before they received their inheritance. The merciful and thoughtful God Almighty will be thoughtful about our lives and perfect His glory in our lives, in Jesus name.

THE CONCEPT OF THE CITIES OF REFUGE—Numbers 35:6

Forty eight cities were allocated to the Levites. Out of these, six cities were designated as the cities of Refuge. Strategically the cities were located within the inheritances of the Israelites. Three cities are in the land of the inheritance of Reuben and Gad and half of Manasseh on the other side of Jordan. Moses obeyed. Deut. 4:41-43 The other three cities in the land of Promise was established by Joshua. Joshua 20:7 The cities obviously are governed by the Levites. This is implying that righteous people that fear the Lord will insist on righteous implementation of investigation and rendition of justice regarding a murder case within the people of God.  The cities were to be well spread and easily accessible so that an offender can run into the city and preserved before the investigation and execution of the judgment against manslayer.

  • Refuge city—is a secured place of protection for a person who accidentally commit murder
  • Manslayer—is a man who unwittingly, unintentionally, accidentally killed a person without premeditation.
  • Avenger of blood—are the kinsman or relative of the person killed, who will now demand that judgment be executed against the person who murder their relatives.

Refuge cities was set up in the thoughtfulness of Almighty God to effect:

  • Prevention of Cruel revenge upon a person who had killed someone unintentionally
  • This provision thereby prevents the kinsman of the murdered person from committing sins against God who had earlier commanded His people not to commit murder
  • At the gate of the city of Refuge, the elders will carry out a proper investigation to determine that the manslayer did not intentionally, did not premeditate and there was no misunderstanding or malice between the two parties before the accidental death occurred. Joshua 20:4
  • The city of Refuge was made available for both the Israelites and sojourners that are dwelling within the inheritance of the people of God in the land of Promise.

Having this concept at the back of our mind, let us relate it to the divine refuge that salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ had provided us. Ezekiel 18:20 says,The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Also, Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (Romans 5:8-9)

CONDITIONS FOR SAFETY IN THE CITY OF REFUGE—Numbers 35:15, 26-28

To be saved and secured in the City of Refuge there are certain regulations that the manslayer must adhere to in order to be qualified for asylum in the city.

  • The manslayer must run to the nearest city of refuge before the avenger of blood lay hands on him. In the same manner, salvation through Christ is urgent, sinner must run for safety in Christ. 2 Cor. 6:2; There is no other city that can accommodate manslayer, so also “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12
  • The manslayer must declare his case before the elder who will determine whether he is qualified to be granted asylum in the city. In the same manner, a sinner must genuinely confess and repent his sins before God in order to receive salvation. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:10
  • After the asylum had been granted him in the city, the manslayer must abide by the regulations of the Levites. He must exercise self-control and self-discipline to remain a law abiding person in the city. The same principle goes for the believers in Christ. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1
  • The manslayer must remain in the city of refuge and operate within the city and must not stray away outside the city for anything. This means, he cannot pursue after his business, or his properties in the former city. If he strays away from the city, and the avengers of blood see him and kill him, they will not be guilty of the murder. Therefore he must forego everything he possessed in his former city to remain safe. In the same manner a person that had received salvation should not go back to the world. Judas Iscariot tried it, he was lost forever. Demas tried, he never made it back to the fold of Christ.
  • He must remain in the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest before he can return to his former city.

The lesson we can learn from the conditional security of the manslayer in the city of refuge is pointing to the conditional security of believers who had embraced the salvation of Jesus Christ. A Christian is safe and secure in the grace of salvation through faith in the redemption blood of Jesus Christ as long as the believer continue to abide in the precept of righteousness and holiness demanded of him by the word of God.

If the believer now go back to commit sin again, it is like the manslayer who strayed away from the city of refuge and thereby open himself for destruction in the hand of the avengers of blood.  That is why we are encouraged to flee from every form of sinfulness. That is why we need to quickly repent our sins and thereby return to cover of our salvation in Christ. Please brethren, note the erroneous doctrine of eternal security that says, “Once save always save.” It is a false doctrine.

The scripture strictly admonished us in Galatians 5:17 to “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” This is Brother Paul writings to the Brethren in Galatia. It is also a message to us today. The passage went further to explain the lust of the flesh to us.   “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatian 5:19-21)

CONVICTION AND PUNISHMENT OF WILLFUL MURDERERS—Numbers 35:16-18

The provision of City of Refuge is not an indication that God is allowing a willful murderer to get away with his sins. His commandment that we should not commit murder willfully still stand. Any one that break the law, should face the trial. Among other things that must be proved during the murder trial among the people of are:

  • The murder weapon the murder used to kill the victim must be identify with the crime.
  • It must be established that the murderer use the weapon to kill the victim by striking him or by ambushment
  • Intention as to willfulness to commit murder must be proved—premeditation
  • It must be determine whether there exist a malice, situation of hatred or other causes that can trigger of deliberate murder.
  • In order to convict a person in a murder trial, there must be at least two eye-witnesses testifying against the murderer. Numbers 35:30 Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
  • When the trial is concluded and the willful murderer is convicted, he will be handed over to the avenger of blood that will put him to death.

The lesson we can learn from the procedure of conviction of a murderer in the passage we read is that the crime of murder is a violent sin against human being.  We may even say to ourselves, “I can never kill anyone,” and perhaps we say, “therefore we cannot be convicted as a willful murderer in our study.”

Many murders are being committed every day without the use of physical weapons

  • Usage of tongue—James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
  • Careless living in the name of enjoyment—Got yourself drunk and you jump into your car and drive off. You are like a loaded gun that can be triggered off by accident that can kill many people
  • Drug dealers/drug usage—Drug users do not have right to kill themselves knowingly or unknowingly.
  • Inaction and indifference of the servant of God—Ezekiel 33:6 But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.
  • An accomplice to physical murder—you did not kill anyone directly but the weapons that resulted to the death of people passed through you and perhaps you make profit from the evil transactions

All sins must be judged according to the law of God. All unrepented sins carried the judgment of death. If the government of the world could not put the sinner to death physically for his sins, the Lord God the righteous Judge can put the person to death spiritually. Consider your ways this day and run to the city of refuge for salvation. The redemption blood of Jesus Christ is still available at the Cross of Calvary. Sum up courage and repent your sins. My prayer this day it that, we will not fall into the judgment of God, in Jesus name.

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