Specific directions are often given by the Lord concerning legal procedures, in the Old Testament particularly. Much of it, after all, is the “guidebook” for the Nation of Israel, legislatively speaking. In fact, whole chapters of the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) are given to areas of “civil law!”
And Joshua chapter 20 fits into that designation, though it is not Pentateuchal. Instructions about the “Cities of Refuge” are found there.
For example, today’s Text … “And when he (the accidental manslayer) that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city (where court was held), and shall declare his cause (innocence, lack of premeditation) in the ears of the elders (leaders, Levites if not priests) of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place (of protection), that he may dwell (abide) among them.” Joshua 20:4
And lest a true killer, murderer (having ended some man’s life deliberately and with malice in his heart) sneak into the City of Refuge … a “preliminary hearing” was conducted … insuring (at least on the evidence then available) the applicant’s innocence!
But, Preacher Bagwell, is all this important, that important? A whole chapter of Joshua, dedicated to these “Cities of Refuge?”
Six (now, after so many years) ancient cities, and some point of law being discussed?
Read carefully now …
YES, it must be that important! (We shall learn soon that these cities are pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ, our TRUE PLACE of Safety!)
I say this concept is of vital significance … because these cities of refuge (this “mercy” principle emanating from the Heart of God) because they are discussed in no less than FOUR Books of the Old Testament!
Four Books, as demonstat4ed here …
1.Exodus 21:12-14 … “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.”
“Lie not in wait” … did NOT plan to kill the man. An accident occurred!
2. Numbers 35:9-11 … “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 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.”
3. Deuteronomy 4:41-43 … “Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising; that the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live. Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.” More information yet!
4. Then, finally our Text: Joshua chapter 20, all nine verses! Verse 1 … “The LORD also spake unto Joshua, saying, 2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses.”
Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua!
Hence, I would say QUITE IMPORTANT, these Cities!
So in the next few days we are going to more carefully investigate this concept of God’s mercy, these six Cities! And, I promise you, it will be an enjoyable time of study, of learning!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
Oh, one more thing.
These cities of Refuge just “might be” mentioned in the New Testament as well.
Paul preaching about Jesus, says in Philippians 3:9 … “Being found in Him (as our city of Refuge, Place of Safety), not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
But more clearly, Hebrews 6:18. “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” See it? “We who have fled for refuge?”