Numbers 35-36, Psalm 52
By definition, a refuge is a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. When threatened we all have a refuge, but it tends to change depending on our age and life circumstance. When very young, our refuge is usually our parents. As we get older, it is usually our group of friends. When we marry, it is generally our spouse. All of these scenarios make sense but are imperfect refuges. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:24-27, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." Jesus lets us know that none of us will be immune to dangers, troubles, and problems, which are our storms in life. Our choice is to make Him our refuge so that we will stand up under the weight of our circumstances, or lean on anything else and fall.
We read in Numbers 35:10-12, about the designated cities of refuge, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: "When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there. They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment." In those days there was no sheriff or police force. When a family member was killed, a member of the victim's family would avenge their death. But the escape from the avenger was only the case for an accidental death. If the death was either premeditated or out of anger, then the manslayer would be released to the avenger to kill. Capital punishment was the rule of law for such cases. Much of chapter 35 gives specific details as to what would be considered accidental or not. Notice the interesting rule in 35:25,28 "So the congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall return him to the city of refuge where he had fled, and he shall remain there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil...But after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession." Jon Courson in his commentary writes of this, "The person who was guilty-as we all are-was kept safe in the city by the life of the high priest. But he was declared not guilty by the death of the high priest. The picture should be obvious. We are kept safe by the life of our great High Priest, Jesus Christ. He is the One who intercedes for us, the One who gives instruction to us, the One who lives through us. But while we are kept safe by His life, we are saved by His death, for our sins have been washed away by His blood."
Elisabeth Eliot said, "Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your savior, your guide? If He is, you don't need to search any further for security." There is so much pain and sorrow in this world. Some brought upon by our own foolish actions, some not. When we find ourselves getting beaten down and insecure, the question is where are we going to turn for refuge. Every refuge outside of God though at times helpful, will not give the security and protection of our Rock, Jesus Christ. Jesus knows this and tells us in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Two things that every human being has in common is that we are all sinners and we will all face many difficulties and trials in this life. The difference lies in where we place our hope. If we place our hope in Our Redeemer, Our Rock, Our Savior, Jesus Christ, we will find forgiveness from our sins and steady ground as we go through our difficulties.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: