BIBLE READING: Joshua 19-21
In Joshua 20, the LORD tells Joshua to appoint certain cities in which an innocent person can find refuge against those who seek to avenge. It is very easy to understand the purpose of these cities in the ancient world, but do they have an application for us today? Throughout the Old Testament God has placed several things that have an allusion to New Testament principles, and these cities of Refuge are no exception. These cities of Refuge provide a picture for people finding refuge in God. David wrote in Psalm 46.1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” In fact, fifteen other times the Psalms speak of God as being our refuge. The writer of Hebrews also sheds light on the subject “That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6.18). Today, we don’t need specific cities of refuge placed around the globe, because we have Jesus. In fact, there are several similarities between these ancient cities of Refuge and Jesus.
1. Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are within easy reach of those that were needy.
2. Both Jesus and the cities of refuge were open to all, whether Israelite or alien, Christian or non-Christian. No one would be turned away in their time of need.
3. Both Jesus and the cities of refuge were the only alternative for the one in need, without their protection they would be destroyed.
4. Both Jesus and the cities of refuge only offered protection within their boundaries. If you stepped out of the boundaries of the city, you were no longer protected. In the same way, if we step out of Christ our spiritual safety is in jeopardy.
5. Finally, with both Jesus and the cities of refuge, full freedom comes with the death of the High Priest. In our sense, with the death of Jesus our sins can be forgiven giving us freedom in Christ.
There is one specific difference in the case of the cities of refuge, only the innocent was offered refuge. Yet in the case of Jesus, He can offer help and hope to guilty as well as the innocent. Even in the days of Canaanite Conquest, God is leaving us little morsels of goodness that point us to the blessings we have in Christ.