Saturday, May 14, 2011

A City of Refuge

     In Numbers 35 and Deuteronomy 19 God commands His people to build six cities of refuge.  The cities belonged to the Levites and were to be spread through the land so that every one in Israel would be within a half days' journey, lest the road be too long to run to safety.  There were to be highways built to the cities.  Men who killed their neighbor accidentally, say their ax head flew off while they were chopping wood, could flee to these cities and have a place of safety until they could present their case to the judges.  Close behind the accidental murderer would be the blood avenger, the grieving family member, who would be justified in putting the murderer to death if he should catch him.  Six cities of refuge, and if my eyes aren't glazed over in boredom, I see the gospel.
     I see myself fleeing to safety, as Matthew Henry would say, convinced of my sin and in terror because of it.  The gate is near, for the word is near me, in my mouth and in my heart, and Christ is the Word (Romans 10:8).  The blood avenger is close behind shouting out the wrath of God and the curse of the Law.  Though the blood avenger is right, is justified, though I deserve wrath and the curse, the gate to the city is open.  For there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) because Christ became a curse for me (Galatians 3:13).  I fly to the feet of the elders of the city, to plead my case before God.  There at the right hand of the Father is Christ, seated on a throne of grace.  From that throne of grace flow mercy and help in time of need (Hebrews 5:16).  I am daily in need, and there is gospel goodness in the city of refuge.

Hear my cry, O God;
Give heed to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You
when my heart is faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.

Psalm 61:1-4

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