(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 4)
In the Old Testament, God instructed that if a person were to accidentally kill another in that he did not plan to do it in advance or intend to kill the person, then that person would be guilty of manslaughter, not murder.
Back then, it was perfectly justifiable, for a person who had killed someone deliberately, to be killed by someone else so as to requite the death. In fact, given the significance of man’s life because he was made in the image of God, God has always taken blood shed seriously and personally. After all, he created mankind. Human beings do not therefore, have the right, to decide to end the life of another, that HE decided to create. It is an offence against God first and foremost, as, by murdering someone, a person is taking out of the world, what The Most High God put in it.
It is therefore not a light thing to shed the blood of another human being, where God did not sanction, direct or approve of it. In the Old Testament, there were times when he directed his children to kill others, sometimes entire cities. These were permissible as God, who gave the life of every man, has the authority to decide to end it.
If he has not authorized it though and man decides of his own volition to end the life of another, this is a serious offence. Where it was premeditated or intentional, God’s Word to the Israelites in the Old Testament was that that man was to likewise be put to death.
In Numbers Numbers 35:30-31 and 33, God directed:
- “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death…for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.”
Where a person deliberately killed another therefore, God required that it be requited with the killer’s blood being shed in return.
The person who was to carry out this requite killing was referred to as the revenger or avenger of blood. From other scriptures, it seems that this may have been a family member or close affiliate of the deceased person and therefore someone who would have been personally affected and upset by the killing and invested in taking vengeance.
However, God made a distinction between a murder and someone who had killed another accidentally (manslaughter). Although in verse 33, he made it clear that, whether accidental or deliberate, once a person had been killed and his blood shed, the land could not be cleansed of its defilement except the killer’s own blood was likewise shed, God made provision for the person who had killed someone by accident.
In Numbers 35:10-15, 25, God told Moses:
- “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 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. Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge.These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither…
- And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.”
Later on, after Moses had passed and Joshua was leading the Israelites, God told him:
- “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.And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them.And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver the slayer up into his hand; because he smote his neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not beforetime.And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.” (Joshua 20:2-6)
God therefore made wonderful provision for the person who had killed someone without intending to do so. Make no mistake, the offence was still serious. That the man was guilty was a foregone conclusion. There was no debate or speculation as to whether he committed an offence. It was a fact that he did. The offence was grave and worthy of death and therefore, if he were to have been killed, it would have been justified.
However, GRACE was extended to this man and the full brunt of what he deserved, withheld, PROVIDED that he fled to the CITIES OF REFUGE. Him being saved therefore from the consequence of his offence was CONDITIONAL or CONTINGENT on him making the decision to flee to the CITIES OF REFUGE.
If he refused because he did not believe that he would be safe where God had directed that he should go or because he did not want to leave where he was accustomed to living, then he would definitely be destroyed by the revenger of blood. There was simply no hope outside the appointed CITIES OF REFUGE.
Even if fleeing meant that he had to leave family, spouse, children, friends and other loved ones behind, he had to do so, as his very life depended on it. It was therefore in his interest (anything else would seem to be utterly ludicrous), for him to run to the CITIES OF REFUGE, where, once he continued to abide within, he would be safe.
If however, having fled to the CITIES OF REFUGE and receiving protection and a covering within, he became complacent, discontent, disgruntled, bored or curious to explore and decided to leave that place, to go out of it and to venture outside its border, then, he would no longer be able to benefit from the hedge of protection that the CITIES provided to all those within. For, God directed, that if the revenger of blood met him outside the CITIES, where he ought not to have been in the first place, then he would be destroyed and the revenger of blood would not be held liable.
It would therefore indeed be risky and even foolish, having found SECURITY in the CITIES OF REFUGE, for the one who had fled to the CITIES OF REFUGE to stop abiding therein and to venture out.
Having been DELIVERED out of the hand of the revenger of blood and his life spared, verse 26-28 of Numbers further states:
- “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.”
Although it is indeed risky, foolish and detrimental, once delivered from that which would have brought destruction, to stop abiding in the place that affords the best protection and the place that guarantees abundant life, this is what some of God’s people do.
Like the man in the verses read above, as human beings, we are guilty of disobeying God, rebelling against him and his commands and sinning by doing our own thing. We are therefore worthy of death as we have offended God with our sins and the Word of God says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
Death hanging over all of our heads, like with the man in the above verses, by GRACE, God has made provision for us and appointed to us a CITY OF REFUGE unto which we can flee. Once we obey by faith and flee to this CITY OF REFUGE, we are guaranteed protection and a divine covering, so that we are delivered from the penalty for our sin, which is death.
What is this CITY OF REFUGE?
Well, the Word of God says that “…the wages of sin is death BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.”
JESUS is therefore our CITY OF REFUGE. He is our great HABITATION.
He came to earth, died for our sins and had his blood shed to redeem us to God. He has therefore been appointed as our City of Refuge, so that although beyond the shadow of a doubt, we are guilty of the offence, by grace, God has appointed Him (Jesus) as our City of Refuge, so that we will not bear our punishment which is spiritual death. We are to flee to this City of Refuge and once within, we are to abide there in gratitude, that we have not been dealt with as we deserved.
Jesus is the Son of God and God the Son and in him coming to our rescue, he, God, in essence, brought salvation through himself. He is therefore both the AVENGER for sin and wrong doing but he is also our SAVIOUR AND REFUGE.
This dual role of AVENGER meting out wrath and of SAVIOUR extending mercy and grace is perfectly depicted in Isaiah 63:3-8, where the Prophet prophesied of the Lord:
- “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine ANGER, and trample them in my FURY; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of VENGEANCE is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
- And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought SALVATION unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.
- And I will tread down the people in mine ANGER, and make them drunk in my FURY, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
- I will mention the LOVINGKINDNESSES of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the GREAT GOODNESS toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his MERCIES, and according to the multitude of his LOVINGKINDNESSES. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their SAVIOUR.”
As the Avenger therefore, God is justified in destroying us for our offence. However, he has made provision in his mercy, for us to flee to the CITY OF REFUGE, which is Jesus Christ the SAVIOUR of the world. Once we abide in HIM, we are safe and God will not mete out his wrath to us. However, if we once abided but then stopped, turned back and left this CITY OF REFUGE, God cannot guarantee our physical protection and safety. Spiritually, our souls will be saved from eternal damnation because when God saves a soul, he does not reverse it but we will suffer loss in this world.
GOD AS OUR REFUGE
That God (although he is Avenger to those that are without) has always been a REFUGE and HABITATION to those who are his children and abiding within, the Word of God states:
- “God is our REFUGE and strength, a very present help in trouble…. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our REFUGE” (Psalm 46:1 and 7).
- “The Lord also will be a REFUGE for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9)
In Psalm 57:1-3, David prayed:
- “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my REFUGE, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.”
In 2 Samuel 22: 2-3, David also stated of God:
- “…The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my REFUGE, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”
In Psalm 71:1-3, the Psalmist stated:
- “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion. Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me. Be thou my strong HABITATION, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.”
Finally, Psalm 91 states:
- “He that DWELLETH in the secret place of the most High shall ABIDE under the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, He is my REFUGE and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
- Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
- Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy HABITATION;
- There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
- Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”
CONSEQUENCES FOR LEAVING THE CITY OF REFUGE
Knowing that he is our Saviour and CITY OF REFUGE, in John 15:4-6, Jesus stated to his disciples (and it is therefore also applicable to all Christians who have sought refuge in HIM), that they were to ABIDE in him. He let them know that outside of HIM, our spiritual CITY OF REFUGE, there was nothing but futility and waste. Only he could guarantee life and more abundantly (John 10:10). He therefore stated:
- “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 fire, and they are burned.”
Notwithstanding, despite the fact that God is a refuge and for Christians that have been redeemed and delivered from the penalty of their sin, we are instructed to ABIDE in our CITY OF REFUGE which is Jesus Christ, at times, like the man in the verses we initially read who was graced with life although guilty of his offence, we may be tempted to leave for one reason or another and some actually do.
They leave that CITY OF REFUGE and therefore STOP ABIDING IN JESUS because they have convinced themselves that they are bored or that the city of refuge is too restrictive and they are missing out on what is happening without (outside). Others leave because they are deceptively lured with the promise of a better, happier life without or curiosity gets the better of them, so they plan to venture out a bit, just to see how the land lay without and then plan to return.
Yet, leaving the CITY OF REFUGE is treacherous and only yields dismal outcomes.
If by faith you once fled to the CITY OF REFUGE and were abiding there, if you decide through your pride, rebellion and folly, to leave, take a detour or to dabble with that which is outside for a season, you will reap either of two outcomes: You will either make it back to the CITY OF REFUGE alive (solely by the grace of God but not without you suffering some kind of loss) OR you will be taken out, as in, removed from this earth.
We should get one thing clear: The child of God does not get to go back into the world, to live there comfortably and stay there indefinitely. God will either cause them to come to their senses (usually through chastening), so that they repent and return or if they stubbornly refuse and want to make the world their abode, he will cause them to be taken out of the world. The Lord may allow satan to have his way in the life of that individual, bringing him to utter shame, ruin and death.
For, the enemy found them not abiding in that CITY OF REFUGE and there being no hedge, no protection for them, in their vulnerability, he overthrew them. Some died of AIDS, some died, along with their unborn child conceived out of wedlock, at childbirth and some died through what the world calls ‘domestic violence’ situations. Others, the Lord allowed them to be removed from the earth through a variety of sicknesses, accidents and other situations that were fatalistic and the enemy was only too happy to facilitate these adverse outcomes.
As stated before, some, only by the grace of God, do return but it is never without damage and some level of destruction having been experienced without. The Prodigal son in the scriptures is a perfect example of that. His Father’s house was his CITY OF REFUGE, the place where he was amply provided for, loved and safe. Yet, he grew bored seemingly and ventured out to experience life.
Years later, having come to nothing, utterly wasted his substance in riotous living, abandoned and so hungry, that he considered eating the husks that the swine he was put to feed were eating, he remembered to whom he belonged, how royally he fared while in his Father’s house and decided to return.
It should be noted that it was only by God’s grace that he was allowed to make his way back to his Father’s house, without being devoured on the way or dying outside that CITY OF REFUGE. Not all of God’s children are that fortunate. Some never make it back to the fold, them having been found to be not abiding in their CITY OF REFUGE but far off, ripe and vulnerable to the enemy’s attack. Sadly, he pounced on them, moved in for the kill and they were taken out.
It is a fact therefore, that all who, having once been abiding in the CITY OF REFUGE, rebelliously wander off beyond its border, either live to regret their decision or regret it in eternity, as they did not even survive to repent on earth. ALL who backslide to whatever extent and walk away from the CITY OF REFUGE to do their own thing or because they take for granted the preciousness of the protection that they have been freely provided in that CITY and so leave, suffer loss. There are no exceptions.
Of course, this does not apply to the person who merely ‘claimed’ or ‘professed’ to have been abiding in the CITY OF REFUGE but who never truly fled to that CITY due to unbelief. Such a person was never saved, although he gave the impression that he was. He was always outside the border of the CITY and therefore, under the wrath of the Avenger.
The person who was truly once abiding because he did indeed flee by faith to the CITY OF REFUGE (which is Jesus, not a church building) and Jesus saved him but he then backslid, ventured out or left the CITY OF REFUGE (which is Jesus, not a church building) is the person to whom this Article refers.
Admittedly, there was a time in my own life where I was young and foolish and courted the idea that the grass was greener on the other side or that I could venture outside the CITY OF REFUGE, to pick some of the grass on the other side and bring it back in with me. However, having suffered loss and sterility in so many ways in my life and for many years thereafter as a direct consequence, I have learned first-hand, that it doesn’t work that way. Having repented of my rebellion, I still bear some of the consequences for my foolish actions but I have learned to ABIDE in the CITY OF REFUGE (which is Jesus) and NEVER venture out. For, what is without, no matter how bright the lights seem is not for our welfare but for our hurt.
Temptations will certainly come. People will try to get you to leave your CITY OF HABITATION through all sorts of lies and deceit but you are to ABIDE! For, it is only within this CITY OF REFUGE that you will be safe. It is only within this CITY OF REFUGE that you will benefit from protection. Without that CITY lurk the three Ds: Danger, Destruction and Death. The world has nothing for you, whether it seeks to lure you through false promises of a love relationship, money, career advancement, popularity or any other thing.
Proverbs 21:16 warns, “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.”
As Christians, sometimes we may feel bored, lonely, tired or even burdened where we are at and the enemy will always be using people or situations to make us feel that we are missing out on something and to try to lure us away from where we are ABIDING but we must have a response like that which the disciples of the Lord had, when many of those who once followed him, decided to leave.
After they left, the Bible states that Jesus asked his remaining disciples, “Will ye also go away?”
In response, Simon Peter answered, “…Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
In other words, Peter was saying, even as we who have been delivered from our just desserts should say, Come what may, we will ABIDE. We will STAY in the CITY OF REFUGE.
No matter what we face therefore, how we feel, what we have to give up or what difficulties we encounter while ABIDING in Jesus, our REFUGE, as Isaiah 50:10 advises: “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and STAY upon his God.”
Hebrews 6:18-20 reads:
- “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: Which hope we have as an ANCHOR of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even JESUS, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”
CONTENTMENT IN OUR CITY OF REFUGE
Finally, no matter how things ‘appear’ without (outside), as those who have ventured out and have lived to tell their story would tell you, the best place to be for your welfare is inside the CITY OF REFUGE. The best thing to do is to keep on ABIDING in Jesus Christ.
There is no reason to be discontent, even when going through rough patches. For, the bright lights that the world parades about to give you the impression that there is something more to be gotten outside, than what you have IN JESUS are but a facade.
The Prodigal son only appreciated what he had in his Father’s house after he was brought to nothing in the far off lands that he sojourned. He realized that in his Father’s house, there was more than enough to satisfy him and that he should have never left, looking for greener pastures. Similarly, we are to be content as we ABIDE IN JESUS, as there are spiritual riches and blessings in his storehouse!
In Colossians 2:3, Paul stated of Jesus, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
His desire for the Church at Ephesus was therefore:
- “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the RICHES of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.…(Ephesians 1:17-18)
In Ephesians 1:3, so content and grateful was he to be in THE CITY OF REFUGE which was Jesus Christ, that he declared, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS in heavenly places IN CHRIST…”
In Philippians 4:9, he and Timothy also assured those who remain in THE CITY OF REFUGE that, “…my God shall supply all your need according to his RICHES in glory by Christ Jesus.” There was therefore nothing to worry about while ABIDING in the CITY OF REFUGE, as all within would be amply provided for and taken care of, as Jesus deemed best.
In Psalm 16:11, the Psalmist was so content in the presence of the Lord his REFUGE and with all of his provision, that he stated, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
In Colossians 2 verses 6-10, Paul besought the Church at Colosse to continue IN JESUS and to ignore the luring wiles of people and the world. For, IN HIM (Jesus), they were complete and had everything that they needed for this life and beyond. After all, it was in Jesus (and none else), that the fulness of the Godhead dwelt, bodily!
- “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye IN HIM: Rooted and built up IN HIM, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For IN HIM dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are COMPLETE IN HIM, which is the head of all principality and power.”
THE PHYSICAL CITIES OF REFUGE vs THE SPIRITUAL CITY OF REFUGE
In Numbers 35, the cities of refuge were intended for the person who had committed manslaughter, in that he had killed someone accidentally, unintentionally and without premeditation or malice. Such a person was to flee right after the offense of killing was committed, to the cities of refuge.
This did not however, preclude or prevent him from having to face judgment. Verse 12 states that the cities were to be places of refuge for the manslayer from the avenger, that he die not “…until he stand before the congregation in judgment.”
Although a person fled to the cities of refuge therefore, this would have kept him safe temporarily from the revenger of blood, who may have felt motivated to act hastily, maybe out of hurt and anger for the death of the deceased. However, the person who killed the other person was still to be brought to be judged before the congregation.
The Israelites were given clear instructions as to how he was to be judged. Dependent on the facts, if it was found that the person had done what he did suddenly and without enmity or he had not seen the person when the accident happened and was not the person’s enemy and did not intend to harm him, verse 24 states:
- “Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments: And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled.”
Having judged the person therefore and found that the offence he committed was not murder but manslaughter, the congregation was to ensure that the man was not given over to the revenger of blood to be killed but was to allow him to go back to the city of refuge where he had fled. He would therefore live there in peace and without fear of being killed, provided he continued to abide in that place, until the death of the high priest.
However, it would not be surprising if, a person having murdered someone (meaning with malice, intent or premeditation), after having done the act and wanting to preserve his life, ran to the cities of refuge.
Nevertheless, although such a person would hope to get the opportunity to continue living and hope to find safety in the cities of refuge, he would not. For, like the person who had committed manslaughter, he would eventually have to face judgment before the congregation and the instructions given to the Israelites in his case were clear. Verses 16-21 states:
- “And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die; Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.“
It thereby followed that a murderer, even if he fled to the cities of refuge, hoping that his life would be spared, would merely be postponing the inevitable. For, he could not stop the process whereby he would have to face judgment and afterward, be delivered to the revenger of blood to be killed.
In Deuteronomy 19:11-13, this was again made clear. The Israelites were again instructed:
- “But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel…”
The cities of refuge in Israel therefore were limited, in that they only served to protect the one that did not kill intentionally (the manslayer). They provided no guarantee of protection or security to the murderer, given the severity of his crime and that he had done it with wicked intent.
By contrast, there is the spiritual city of refuge which is Jesus, which, unlike the physical cities of refuge, operates without discrimination, without regard to one’s past or what one has done or whether a person killed someone accidentally or intentionally. This spiritual city of refuge invites ALL to come into it and guarantees safety, security and protection to ALL who accept the invitation.
MORE ABOUT THE SPIRITUAL CITY OF REFUGE – JESUS
When it comes to spiritual matters, God being mankind’s Avenger, the Word of God makes it clear that all human beings, having committed offences due to the sin in them, will face judgment. This will apply whether or not they fled to the spiritual CITY OF REFUGE in this life, which is Jesus. Similar to what took place in Israel where a person had been killed therefore, spiritually, all human beings must be judged for the life they lived here, while on earth. None are exempted.
HOWEVER, unlike the physical cities of refuge set up for the Israelites, where a person having fled to those cities was not necessarily safe from death, depending on the outcome of that judgment, ALL who flee to the spiritual CITY OF REFUGE, which is Jesus are guaranteed safety from the penalty of sin, which is the wrath of God, spiritual death and eternal damnation in hell.
That is, although the physical cities of refuge could not protect the murderer from being eventually killed after he faced judgment, even if he had previously fled to those cities, when it comes to our sins as human beings, irrespective of what we’ve done or how serious or that we did what we did with hearts full of malice and wicked intent, once we have taken refuge in the CITY OF REFUGE which is Jesus and continue to abide IN HIM, when we face God’s judgment, we will not suffer his wrath and not be cast into hell but be given access to eternal life because we have been forgiven. Once we are found to be in the CITY OF REFUGE, which is Jesus, our past will not be held against us. We will not be made to pay for our sins.
We would have been forgiven because we fled to the CITY OF REFUGE which is Jesus and placed our trust IN HIM. God will therefore pass over us and not give us the punishment that we are due. For, Jesus gives a covering to WHOSOEVER flees to the CITY OF REFUGE which is HIM, by faith and this covering which is perfectly righteous, is enough to redeem us from our sins and give us instead, an eternal inheritance in heaven.
The physical cities of refuge that the Israelites had set up therefore, could only provide a guarantee to the person who had killed without intent (the manslayer) but the spiritual CITY OF REFUGE which is Jesus is open and available to EVERYONE. WHOSOEVER will, may come.
Once a person enters that CITY OF REFUGE by believing in his heart what the Word of God says, which is that Jesus rose from the dead and confessing with his mouth that he Jesus is Lord, that person, in repentance for his sin is guaranteed eternal security. That person is guaranteed forgiveness, no matter what he did. It therefore means that this spiritual CITY OF REFUGE is open and available to even the worst of criminals and to the person who has done wrong with the most wicked of hearts. Once that person heeds the invitation to come to the CITY OF REFUGE and therefore believes by faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and confesses that he is Lord, when that person dies or the Lord returns (whichever is sooner), that person’s soul is guaranteed eternal life in the presence of God and that person will get to live in that beautiful and holy City that the Lord has prepared for all who believe on him (John 14:3; Revelation 21:1-2;24). Such a person will not, after judgment therefore, be delivered to the Avenger (which is God), to suffer wrath. For, while on earth, as soon as he entered the CITY OF REFUGE, which is Jesus, as soon as he believed on him and confessed that he is Lord, he is passed from condemnation to life.
In John 5:24, Jesus stated, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall NOT come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
HOW TO ENTER THE SPIRITUAL CITY OF REFUGE
Romans 10:9-13 also tells us, how as sinful human beings, all deserving of God’s wrath, we can flee to the CITY OF REFUGE, which is Jesus. All we need to do to enter that spiritual place of eternal security is believe in our hearts the truth (as given in the Bible), that Jesus rose from the dead and confess the truth with our mouths, that Jesus is Lord.
The scripture states:
- “That if thou shalt CONFESS WITH THY MOUTH THE LORD JESUS, and shalt BELIEVE IN THINE HEART THAT GOD HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, WHOSOEVER believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto ALL that call upon him. For WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.“
In the physical cities of refuge, there was a difference between the manslayer and the murder but not so in the spiritual CITY OF REFUGE which is Jesus! His Word says “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto ALL that call upon him. WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord…” is therefore guaranteed safety!
What beautiful provision is this! What a wonderful all-inclusive CITY OF REFUGE we have in Jesus!
In this CITY OF REFUGE, there is no discrimination and no distinction. No matter what we are guilty of or how wicked our past deeds, once we flee to his CITY in repentance and abide therein in obedience, we are safe.
If a person murdered someone for example or is known to be a hardened criminal and committed many hideous crimes in his life, if he stole money or was physically abusive to someone or whatever he did, no matter how severe or wicked, if he in genuine repentance for his sins, puts his trust in Jesus the CITY OF REFUGE, if in believing that his soul is in danger of hell fire but that Jesus can save him, he puts his trust in Jesus the CITY OF REFUGE and abides therein, all of his sins will be washed away, as if he never committed them. He will be given a new slate, a divine pardon (which is greater than any presidential pardon) and his soul (which will be granted eternal life) will be allowed into God’s holy City which is reserved for all believers, when this earthly life is over.
Whereas the physical cities of refuge in Israel could only provide physical security without threat of being killed, to the person who had committed manslaughter therefore but offered no such protection or deliverance to the person who had committed a far more serious offence of murder, the spiritual CITY OF REFUGE that we have available today in Jesus Christ is for ANYONE and EVERYONE, irrespective of what he or she has done.
This spiritual CITY OF REFUGE is freely offered to all of mankind. We do not have to pay to enter or pay to continue to abide therein. In fact, once we enter by faith, we are instructed to rest in HIM. Once we have entered, Jesus does not want us to worry about our past or about our future but just to keep trusting in HIM.
We may have done the wickedest of things and with wicked intentions but in this CITY OF REFUGE, Jesus offers forgiveness. His Word tells us that, where sin did abound, grace did much more abound.
Jesus therefore continues to extend the invitation to every human being that dwells upon the earth, given that this world will one day end, that judgment is inevitable, that all humans are guilty of sin and that the Avenger’s wrath will descend upon ALL who never fled to the spiritual CITY OF REFUGE (himself) while on earth. He continues to call because it is not his will that any should perish at the hands of the Avenger (2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:23) and so he beckons: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
THE SPIRITUAL CITY OF REFUGE AND THE BACKSLIDER
Some of us who once placed our trust in Jesus and therefore entered the CITY OF REFUGE, may, as believers, have even ventured out foolishly to our detriment or recklessly sat on the very edge of the ledge of the CITY, thinking ourselves to be safe and allowing ourselves to be entertained by someone outside the CITY OF REFUGE. Of course, that someone, though speaking ‘sweet’ words to deceive us and being commissioned by the enemy of our souls, had the intention of pulling us down and out of the CITY OF REFUGE through compromise.
When the pulling began, it was by the Lord’s grace alone that we were allowed to break free from his hold before falling and to take deeper refuge in the CITY OF REFUGE or where fallen through compromise, repentantly make it back in, into the CITY OF REFUGE. For all such persons, upon genuine repentance, Jesus’ forgiveness and restorative power are also available.
To such persons, Jesus also extends an invitation to RETURN to the fold. In Isaiah 1:2,18 God stated of the backslider:
- “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me...Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land…”
(Written on 14th and 15th January, 2022, adjusted thereafter)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, beneficial or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following under the ‘SINGLE Daughters’ Page:
- Note 241 – ‘Come Away…To Jesus’
- Note 248 – ‘A Light Above The Brightness Of The Sun’
Additionally, under the ‘BIBLE-BELIEVING Daughters’ Page:
- Note 40 – ‘The Dying Thief’
- Note 223 – ‘God – The Fountain Of Life’
Under the ‘BROKEN Daughters Page:
- As many Articles as you may wish to read – See the listing by searching for ‘TABLE OF CONTENTS (BROKEN DAUGHTERS)’.