Numbers 35, Deuteronomy 19, Joshua 20
If you have never read about God's provision of the cities of refuge under the old testament then you should do so right away. This wonderful provision of God for the Israelites has great implications for the believer under the New Testament. It will also help you to understand some astonishing truths from the Word of God.
Read Numbers 35 and Deuteronomy 19 before continuing this article.
Under the provision of the Old Testament God had provided several cities of refuge. These were located in strategic places so that no matter where you were you could reach one of the cities relatively quickly.
In cases of manslaughter or murder, the person who committed the crime could escape to the nearest city of refuge to prevent the relatives or friends of the dead person from taking revenge. The offender would be secure in the city of refuge until the time that a council of elders could be called to judge the case.
If the offender were then found guilty of manslaughter (i.e. unintentional murder) he or she would be free from the death penalty. Nevertheless he would still need to reside in the city of refuge to avoid revenge by the relatives or friends of the person he killed.
On the other hand, if the person were found guilty of murder, interested members of the murdered person would put him to death. The penalty for murder was death. The city of refuge would not shelter a murderer.
Manslaughter's who dwelt in the city of refuge were only free to leave on the death of the current High Priest. As long as the High Priest was alive they could remain secure in the city. On his death the cities were emptied and everyone was free to go home.
It is not inconceivable that those wanting revenge would take advantage of the emptying of the cities on refuge on the death of the High Priest. Even though the death of the High Priest was supposed to represent the fact that someone had died for them; hence they were free from the consequences of their sins and allowed going home.
You can still imagine the problems that the dead High priest could present for the offender since those seeking revenge could still be lurking around.
Now lets consider the fact that Jesus Christ is our High Priest. We have come to him for refuge and remain secure under his protection as long as he lives. The avenger (satan) can not get us as long as our High Priest is alive.
Hebrews 9:11-15 11. When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.Do you start to get a glimpse of what eternal redemption means? The Israelites had faith in the city of refuge and found protection there. The avenger could not get them as long as they remained within the city and the High Priest was alive.
12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. (NIV)
We have faith in the blood of Jesus and find protection from the evil one as long as we remain in Christ (Romans 3: 24-25). There is no way satan can get at your life as long as you remain covered by the Great High Priest. If you let this truth sink into your heart you will find great protection from the attacks and threats of the enemy. Meditate on the following scripture
Such a high priest meets our need -- one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect for ever. (NIV)
The above should bring a smile to your face and confidence to your heart. You have a High Priest who lives forever more. Christ has died for your sins. He has paid the price for murder. He is able to save us completely (verse 25)
If you have willingly come to the city of refuge, Christ Jesus, then you are free from the wages of sin as long as you remain in that city. Remember that those who ventured out of the city for whatever reason were exposing themselves to the avenger.
Sin takes us out of the protection of Jesus. Stay within the bounds of God's word. Be obedient to the leading of His Spirit and the guidance of his word. Rebuke all fear that satan might bring along your way with the truth and confidence you have by abiding in Christ. Your High Priest lives forever more. What a privilege to have Christ as our great High Priest.