Something you may or may not have known about me is that I love history. I love the stories, seeing how even after all these years some things never change. I especially love Biblical history, I love reading a story in the Bible and seeing how it can apply to today’s day and age.
There is so many things that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. Those are not the only lessons to be learned however. The parables teach us many different things, as do other stories. The Bible is full of lessons; some to teach, others to guide, and more that we have yet to learn.
The story I am about to share with you is one example. God instructed Joshua to build cities of refuge. These cities of refuge were for those people who accidentally murdered someone; for example, if two people were in the forest cutting down trees and the ax came off the handle and accidentally murdered one of them, the man who was still alive could flee to the city for protection. Sometimes there were men who killed on purpose that fled to these cities as well but didn’t mean that they would be safe. Let me explain further…
As I was saying if you were to accidentally kill someone, you could flee to these cities of refuge, then the elders in the city would have a trial to determine if you were guilty or not. Kind of like today, when we have trials and a jury to determine whether a person is innocent or guilty. If the elders of the city found that you were not guilty and had accidentally murdered someone you were to stay in the city until the high priest died.
You could not leave the city until then, if you left the city before the high priest died you were no longer under the protection of the city. I’m sure that you could send for your family so that you could all live together. Unless they wanted to take a chance, they lived in the city until the High Priest had died. Why couldn’t they go back home, you may ask? Let’s find out, shall we?
To begin let’s start with the reason why this person had to flee to the city of refuge in the first place. Going back to our previous example of the ax, when/if the family member of the person who died found out and discovered it, they had every right to go after the person who committed the murder, accident or not. This is one of the reasons the Lord had Joshua set up several of these cities in different areas so that you could flee to the one that was closest to you. The Lord knows men’s thoughts and He put a plan in place so that people could have a fair trial.
The family member who was after the murderer was called the avenger of blood. Which makes sense when you think about it, they were avenging the blood of the person that they loved. That is why the person had to flee to these cities so that they could be safe from the avenger until their case was heard. This was also the reason why after the trial they could not leave the city.
Like I was saying above, even when the murderer was free from all charges it didn’t mean they could go back home, . If they left the city before the High Priest at that time died, the avenger had every right to continue the hunt. The city could only offer protection if the person was in the city. However, once the High Priest at that time died the murderer was free to leave and the avenger was no longer able to come after him.
If you were found guilty however, that was a different story. The city did not offer protection to those who were not innocent.
Along with the instructions to build the cities they were also to keep the highways clean and straight and up to date and to put signs on the way, that way the person who is fleeing does not have to fall on the way and they know for certain they were on the right path. They could just run and not have to worry about anything in their way.
So now for the big questions. What can we learn from this and how does this apply to us today?
Well… here is one way you can take it, we are murderers, we have killed Jesus by our sins. That is why we must flee to the city of refuge God has prepared for us. To flee to Calvary for forgiveness of our sins.
Who is the avenger of blood that is after us? The nearest relation to Jesus the Man that we killed with our sins, the person that is the closest relative to Jesus is God Himself! God loves us so much, that He has prepared for us a city of refuge, which we can flee to! And to make sure that we get there He Himself is chasing us to the city so that we can be safe inside!
Not everyone makes it to the city though, they choose different pathways. They blame the Lord for all the bad things going on in the world and in their life and don’t understand why they have to face these trials in life. If God was not chasing us, why would we need a reason to run. The trials and tribulations in our life is only preparing us for what is to come, it is helping us to put our trust, love, and everything that we are in His hands.
Sometimes the Lord uses other people to get His message across. We are our brother’s keeper and we need to help our brother’s and sister’s in the Lord when we see that they are in error. When we do that sometimes we are called fanatical, unkind, judgmental, or any other name you can think of, but if we don’t tell them we will be held accountable as well, for it is our duty. We don’t do it out of hatred we do it out of love because of that love we have to tell them for we want them to be saved. Which also means we have to be willing to hear it as well as give it, easier said than done I know.
There is still yet something else, in Revelation the apostle John talks about the city of God coming down to earth. And all who are found without this city are consumed by fire. It also says in the Bible that God is a consuming fire.
If God is the revenger of blood, and He is the one chasing us to the city so that we may be safe, then those who are without the city will be those who have refused to flee to the city. Those people who are found outside of the city of refuge must be consumed by God, who is the revenger of blood… city equals safety, outside equals death.
Remember how, back in the Bible days the people who accidentally killed someone had to stay in the city until the high priest died, right? Well our city is no different, we too have a High Priest, one who has already died for our sins, so that means, once we are in that city of refuge, we are never or should never leave it, because our High Priest will never die.
Of course, once the heavenly city is on earth and the earth is made new, we will be able to go and explore everywhere because there will be no more sin. There will be no more need of the avenger because there is no more death, sickness, sadness, or pain.
The city of refuge that John talked about is our city of refuge which we must flee to. That we may not be found outside of the city and consumed. We must flee to Jesus and He will forgive our sins and take us in to the city of refuge. God would have everyone of us there, but the choice is for each person to make, and He won’t force anyone, but He will try and get us into that city where it is safe.
Just because God is chasing each of us doesn’t mean He is forcing us. He is chasing us because He knows what would happen to us if we aren’t in the city. God loves us so much that He was willing to give His own Son for us so that we might be saved. I don’t know about you, but I am thankful that the Lord is chasing me.
So my question to you is… will you join me in the city of refuge?