Aug 31

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“These were the appointed cities for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person unwittingly might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood” —JOSHUA 20:9

The twentieth chapter of the book of Joshua consists of only nine verses, yet it contains a most valuable analogy for men living today. It is the account of the cities of refuge.
There were six cities chosen by God which were evenly located within the nation of Israel. These cities were designated as a place of safety for anyone who accidentally caused the death of another. As long as he remained within the city, the avenger of blood of the one who died could not harm him. Consider some of the analogies for men living today.
First: Just as God provided a city of refuge in Moses’ day, He also has provided “a city of refuge” for man today. That place is in Christ. Man has sinned (Rom. 3:23) and punishment is certain (Rom. 6:23). However, to escape, we can go to Jesus. Second Timothy 2:10 tells us of “the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.” Thus, just as the man had to be in the city for protection, man today must, must be in Christ.
Second: The way to the cities were clearly marked. The cities were upon hills to be easily seen, and there were signs posted for direction. The way to safety was plain. Likewise, directions to the salvation of the soul are made clear in the Bible. Paul stated, “When ye read, ye may understand” (Eph. 3:4). Jesus said, “If ye abide in my word, ye shall know the truth” (John 8:32). Yes, God’s instructions to safety is made clear to all.
Third: The manslayer himself had to go to the city. He could not send a representative. So it is with salvation in Christ. It is personal. One cannot be saved simply because his relative is a Christian. We are told, “Repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of sin” (Acts 2:38). Salvation is strictly personal.
Fourth: After the slayer entered the city, he had to remain in the city for safety. If he ever stepped out, the avenger could kill him. Likewise, the one who has entered into Christ must continue to abide in Him by faithful obedience to His Word. We are warned, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10), and “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 the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). Yes, one must remain in Christ by faithfully obeying His Word—the New Testament.
The circumstances and conditions concerning the slayer and the cities of refuge are so easy for us today to understand. We would think for a man under this law to fail to comply with these instructions to be wholly without excuse. What then, can be said of those of us today who do the same with Jesus?

Gary Henson

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