This past Sunday we continued our study on spiritual warfare by looking at the cities of refuge and their purpose for the Israelites and how it applies to us as believers.
Before the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the promised land, God was declaring that a new day of mercy was dawning. No more would the law of the land be “an eye for an eye.”
God proclaimed that 6 cities would be set aside to provide sanctuary to “the manslayer”…the one who killed another without malice. He was pursued by the “Avenger of blood,” who was the closest male kin to anyone who dies at the hand of another. He was charged with exacting vengeance on a person responsible for the death of another.
Joshua established the “cities of refuge” in the promised land with 3 located to the east of the Jordan and 3 to the west. These cities were strategically located within one days travel from anywhere in the land where the door to safety and sanctuary would always be open to “whosoever will may come.”
Five rules were in place for these special cities:
- The roads were to be kept in constant repair and readiness, twice as wide as normal roads.
- All obstacles were removed that might hinder progress towards the city.
- The hills were removed and no river or stream was left without bridges.
- Every turn had a post erected with a sign saying “Refuge, Refuge,” pointing the way.
- Once the manslayer made it to the city, he was provided with lodging and a job.
When tragedy struck and an untimely death took place, the pursued saw the avenger in hot pursuit, the manslayer could see the open doors to the city. All the people of the city were at the gates yelling “Hurry! Don’t stop!” With his final breath, he falls into the gateway of the city. He is safe! He is protected! The Avenger of blood has lost!
We ,as the church, are to be the city of refuge. We have been commissioned here at FFC to be a city of refuge, to Save-Heal-Train-Release.
- We keep the way clear, wide, and unobstructed.
- We are to remove all obstacles that might keep the guilty away.
- We are to be the sign posts pointing the way.
- We offer…fellowship, acceptance, safety, and nourishment.
But… What kind of person is on the road? What does that person look like? (This was the practical application of the message.)
They are scared, guilty, and lost.
- Scared because they are alone. Life has become like an elevator, no talking, smiling, eye contact allowed without written consent.
- Guilty. We live in an epidemic of guilt: addictions, families breaking apart.
- Lost and only you and I can point the way! People are broken; the only thing they can look forward to is a city of refuge!
Close – II Samuel 2:12-32
Here we see Abner, Saul’s commander and chief, being pursued by Asahel. By accident he runs Asahel through with his spear. He raced to Hebron, the city of refuge. As he reaches the city gates, he stops to reason with the avenger and is killed. All he had to do was walk in the city and he would have been safe.
Who do you know? Who can you find? Who can you point the way?