As land was appropriated for the tribes of Israel, additional land was given to the Levites. Within the Levites’ land extra cities were built as “cities of refuge”. These were to be designated locations in which people could live who had accidentally killed someone. Here they would be free from the vengeance of those affected by the accident and protected until the elders were able to examine his case and declare him not guilty. He was to remain within the city until the High Priest died so that the land in which the Tribes & Tabernacle dwelt would not be defiled by blood. These “cities of refuge” had many characteristics in common with the work of Christ:
1. They were given by God (Jn. 3:16).
Num. 35:1-2 “And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them.”
V6 “And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.”
2. They provided a place of escape under the Law (Mt. 5:17-19).
V11-12 “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. 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.”
3. They were for everyone, Jew & Gentile alike (1 Jn.2:2).
V15 “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.”
4. They restored all that had been lost.(Joel 2:26-27)
V24-25 “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: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.”
5. They was safety in no other city (Jn. 14:6).
V26-28b “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”
LESSON - These are all wonderful pictures of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption; However, it does not take into account our spiritual condition prior to salvation. Unlike the slayers, we were truly guilty and worthy of death. Jesus took upon Himself our penalty in order that we might be declared righteous! Be thankful that you are forever safe under the shed blood of Jesus Christ! And the eternal city which has been appropriated for us is FAR greater than anything God ever have Israel!