Sabbath, January 29, 2005
• To acknowledge God’s love and righteousness in all His dispositions.
• To reveal the great interest that God has in providing the innocent party a place of refuge and protection.
• To be assured that the Lord fulfills His promises when we follow and serve Him.
• To come to Christ, our Refuge, our Savior, and to remain in Him.
A PLACE OF REFUGE
1. What was God’s merciful plan for those who were marred with involuntary murder?
Numbers 35:10-13 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.
Deuteronomy 19:4, 5 And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past; As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live.
2. What cities were then established in Israel with the purpose or providing safety?
Joshua 20:1-3 The Lord also spake unto Joshua, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses: That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.
Joshua 20: 7-9 And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah. And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh. These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.
“Six of the cities assigned to the Levites–three on each side the Jordan–were appointed as cities of refuge, to which the manslayer might flee for safety. The appointment of these cities had been commanded by Moses, ‘that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge,’ he said, ‘that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.’ Numbers 35:11, 12. This merciful provision was rendered necessary by the ancient custom of private vengeance, by which the punishment of the murderer devolved on the nearest relative or the next heir of the deceased.… The Lord did not see fit to abolish this custom at that time, but He made provision to ensure the safety of those who should take life unintentionally.” – Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 515.
AN ILLUSTRATION OF FORGIVENESS AND SALVATION
3. What do the cities of refuge ruled by the Levites symbolize?
Psalm 62:7, 8 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Romans 8:1, 34 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit… Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
“The cities of refuge appointed for God’s ancient people were a symbol of the refuge provided in Christ. The same merciful Saviour who appointed those temporal cities of refuge has by the shedding of His own blood provided for the transgressors of God’s law a sure retreat, into which they may flee for safety from the second death. No power can take out of His hands the souls that go to Him for pardon.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 516.
ABIDING IN CHRIST
4. What happened with the murderer who did not remain in the city of refuge?
Numbers 35:26-28 But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood: Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.
“And those who were entitled to protection could receive it only on condition of remaining within the appointed refuge. Should one wander away beyond the prescribed limits, and be found by the avenger of blood, his life would pay the penalty of his disregard of the Lord’s provision.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 516.
5. What possibility of salvation does the sinner, who comes to Christ but does not abide in Him, have today?
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
John 15:4-6 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
“The sinner is exposed to eternal death, until he finds a hiding place in Christ; and as loitering and carelessness might rob the fugitive of his only chance for life, so delays and indifference may prove the ruin of the soul. Satan, the great adversary, is on the track of every transgressor of God’s holy law, and he who is not sensible of his danger, and does not earnestly seek shelter in the eternal refuge, will fall a prey to the destroyer.
“The prisoner who at any time went outside the city of refuge was abandoned to the avenger of blood. Thus the people were taught to adhere to the methods which infinite wisdom appointed for their security. Even so, it is not enough that the sinner believe in Christ for the pardon of sin; he must, by faith and obedience, abide in Him.” – Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 517.
FOR OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE
• What was the divine goal when establishing the cities of refuge and what does it mean for us? Deuteronomy 19:10.
• In what condition did the roads that led to the cities of refuge have to be? Deuteronomy 19:3.
• What is the purpose of these institutions–to remind us of the gravity of sin, to do our best to save the life of the innocent–or both?