Scripture Read: Numbers 34 - 35
Title: The City of Refuge
(H) Highlight verse: "For he (the manslayer) must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest, but after the death of the manslayer may return to the land of his possession" Num. 35:28
(E) Explain: In the final chapters of Numbers, God is giving Moses directions as to what the borders of the promise land and how it should be divided among the twelve tribes of Israel. He sets the Levites apart and gives them their own cities. The Levites were the tribe of the priesthood. The priesthood was called to a high calling and they needed to be seperate from the rest of the nation. Within the cities that were given to the Levites were to be six cities of refuge. These cities were set up as a safe place for people who commit manslaughter. They were set up for the people of Israel and for the sojourner who kills someone without intent. The person is to stay in this city of refuge until the High Priest dies and then he is free to return to his own land.
The cities of refuge were designed to be places of mercy and they were intended to keep people safe from people who sought retribution.
(A) Application: We may not have cities of refuge among us today in the United States. Fortunately, we have a judicial system that seeks fairness and justice. However, as Christians the cities of refuge are great reminders of God's mercy and protection over his people. God is a just God, but He is also a merciful God. Jesus continually reminds us that God has shown grace and mercy to us, sinners, so we must show it to others in return. We must also remember that we are still accountable for our actions here on earth. While God will always extend grace and mercy to those who seek it, however there are consequences for sin and God will judge accordingly.
(R) Respond: We have refuge in Jesus Christ. He is our protector, defender and Savior. I take refuge in him today and trust that God will judge according to his mercy and loving-kindness. This doesn't mean he just overlooks my trespasses flippantly, but he will always receive a broken and contrite heart when I bring my shattered heart to him.
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