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February 22 Today’s Reading — Numbers 33-35
“Cities of Refuge”
When the children of Israel were settled in the land of Canaan, God ordained that six cities of refuge be set aside, to which a man might flee for security, if he had unintentionally killed another man. Those cities of refuge were located strategically throughout the land, so that any one of them could be easily reached within a day’s journey from any place in the land of Canaan. If the guilty man could get into the gates of the city before the avenger of blood caught him, he would be secure. These cities of refuge together form a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. They typically represent him to whom we have “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18).
We are informed by the ancient Jewish rabbis, that at least once every year, the magistrates of each city were responsible to survey the road to their city, making certain that the road was clear of all debris and easily passable. There must be no obstacles in the way that would hinder any who might flee to the cities of refuge. The magistrates would send out work crews to remove all large rocks and fallen trees from the road, taking the greatest possible care to remove every stumbling block. Any low places in the road would be filled. Any high places would be leveled. All along the road they placed markers with the word “REFUGE” written in bold letters. When the fugitive came to a crossroad, he needed not hesitate for a moment. Seeing that blessed word, “REFUGE,” he kept on his breathless pace, with relentless determination, until he reached the merciful place of safety. Once he entered the gates of the city, he was safe and secure.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the refuge for sinners. All who come to Him are saved from the wrath of God. The way to Christ is plainly revealed. — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Christ, by His righteousness and blood, has removed every obstacle that might keep the sinner who seeks Him from finding Him. He even sends his Spirit to reveal the way, lead us in the way, and bring us safely to our souls’ Refuge.
Those six cities of refuge, which Joshua appointed in the land of Canaan, are beautiful types of Christ and salvation by Him. Men who would be lawfully slain anywhere else found salvation in the cities of refuge. Not only were those cities typical of Christ in providing salvation for all who entered them, the very names of the cities represented our blessed Savior.
1. Kadesh means “holy.” — Christ is the Holy One, both as God and man. Being the holy God-man, He is abundantly qualified to be our Mediator, Savior, and Redeemer. Christ is the Fountain of Holiness to His people. He is made of God unto us righteousness and holiness, justification, and sanctification (Psalm 16:10; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Corinthians 1:30).
2. Schechem means “the shoulder.” — Christ is our broad-shouldered Redeemer. He carried the enormous load of our sin upon the cross and put it away (Isaiah 53:6). The government of the world in general and of His church in particular is upon His shoulder (Isaiah 9:6). And in conversion He finds His lost sheep, lays it upon His shoulder, and carries it home (Luke 15:4).
3. Hebron means “fellowship.” — “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). In Christ we have access to and fellowship with the eternal God, and shall have uninterrupted communion with Him in heaven’s eternal glory (1 Corinthians 1:9; Ephesians 2:18; John 17:24).
4. Bezer means “a fortified place.” — “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:2). — “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). Christ is the fortress and defence of His people, the stronghold in which the prisoners of hope are secured.
5. Ramoth means “exalted.” — Christ is our exalted Savior. “God hath highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:9). Christ is the One by whom we have been exalted from our low estate to sit among princes and to inherit the throne of glory (Ephesians 2:4-7). And Christ is the One we exalt, honor, and magnify as God our Savior (Revelation 5:9-10).
6. Golan means “revealed or manifested.” — Christ is God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). He is the One revealed to us, to whom we are called, and by whom we are saved (Galatians 1:15-16). In Christ the Glory of God is revealed (2 Corinthians 4:6). And that revelation of theglory of God in the face of Christ is salvation. Meditate upon Christ today, and use Him as the Refuge for your soul.