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A Real Place of Refuge

City of Refuge by Flickr User Topher., CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

City of Refuge by Flickr User Topher., CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Each of us may define a place to find refuge differently depending on what we are trying to escape. We may use a trip home or a vacation as a refuge from work. Refuge from pain might be in a certain medication or in healing. And, refuge from a storm could be anything from an umbrella to a storm cellar depending on the severity of the storm. The definition of refuge is “The condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or trouble.” For Christians, our main refuge is from death as a penalty of sin, and we find it in the blood of our Messiah, Yeshua.

In today’s reading from Numbers 35:1 through Numbers 35:8, The Lord talks to Moses again about the way the community of Israel should live in their new land. God says for Moses to order Israel to give the Levites cities to live in as well as open land. The land is for livestock and crops while the cities are for the Levites and their families to live in. God gives very specific dimensions and space for the cities and their surrounding land, and the dimensions sound very much like those of the New Jerusalem in Bible prophecy.

God says Israel must give the Levites a total of 48 cites, 6 of which are designed as “cities of refuge” as a place to flee for someone who has killed another human being. The other 42 cities are just for them. The division of these cities will come from the inherited land of the various tribes of Israel with those who have a bigger inheritance giving the larger spaces of land to the Levites.

These lands and cities are a form of tithe from the people of Israel because the Levites do not have their own inheritance as do the other tribes. God has set them aside to do His work and create a government over the people that will serve to protect them if everyone adheres to God’s plan. The tribes with the bigger inheritances give more, but if we could measure it out, I’m certain they would still give the same percentage because God is no respecter of persons. He knows what we need, and He knows what we are able to share.

And don’t you find it wonderful that in providing for the protection over His people by way of law and those who will govern by that law, God also provides mercy? He is absolutely sovereign, and He is loving and giving in all He plans. He covers every possibility in life, including that humans will fail and need refuge from that. He makes the law like He makes necessary rain storms to grow plants from the earth that produce food and oxygen, and then He adds His mercy like we add storm shelters to our homes. We need the storms, and we need shelter from the storms. We need God’s law, and we need Him to pour out new mercies for us every day because we will likely break His laws many times each day.

What are some things that you consider pursuits, dangers and troubles in your life? When you need refuge from these things, what are the places or behaviors that give you refuge–even temporarily? Do you find your refuge in a bowl of ice cream or some retail therapy, or have you learned to go running to the mercy seat at the throne of God to find your peace?

A city of refuge represents more than just a rest stop. It is walled and fortified to protect you from danger, and it gives you a place to live daily in freedom. Church attendance and good works are not a city, though they can offer temporary shelter. But, salvation and living a life of obedience and worship to God is a city; a place of permanent dwelling. It is God’s will that all would find His cities of refuge and live there for the rest of their earthly lives that He may dwell with them for eternity. Let us go beyond the rest stop of seeking a brownie button for attending Sunday School or doing some good deed, and let us instead move in with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths to places where we dwell within God’s presence. There we will find a real place of refuge.


July 16, 2014 - Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , ,

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