Sermon #1318 Miscellaneous Notes
Title: THE CITIES OF REFUGE
A TYPE OF CHRIST
Text: Joshua 20:2-4
Readings: Deuteronomy 19:1-10, Numbers 35:6-29 & Joshua 20:1-9
Subject: Christ Our Refuge
Date: Sunday Morning and Evening - March 15, 1998
Tape # U-60 and U-61
Proposition: These six cities of refuge typified and portrayed our great and glorious Savor, the Lord Jesus Christ and display to us a picture of God’s mercy, love, and grace in providing his own dear Son to be a refuge for guilty sinners.
The word “refuge” carries with it the idea of hope. A refuge is a place or person to which we flee in a time of danger or trouble with the hope of safety and security. That is exactly what every believer has done. We have fled from the wrath and justice of God, in hope of safety and security to Jesus Christ, our Refuge. This is how faith is described in Hebrews 6:18-20.
I want to show you how The Cities Of Refuge are Type Of Christ.
1. According to the law of God, any man who killed another man must die. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”, is the requirement of justice. When a man’s life was taken by another man, even when it was taken accidentally, without malice or purpose, the man who killed another man was, in the Old Testament, under the sentence of death. The dead man’s next of kin had a legal right and obligation to avenge his brother’s blood. But, for those who were guilty of such a crime, the crime of taking another man’s life accidentally, without malice or intent, God mercifully provided cities of refuge to which the man slayer might flee for safety from the avenger of blood.
2. There were six cities of refuge. A person might be anywhere in the land of Israel, on either side of the Jordan, and easily flee to one of these cities within just a half-a-day
3. The way to these cities of refuge was always kept clear, regularly repaired, so that the roads could be easily traveled and the cities of refuge always easily accessible.
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 cross-roads, 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 place of merciful safety. Once he entered the gates of the city, he was secure.
4. Anyone guilty of manslaughter had a right to flee to the cities of refuge and was guaranteed safety for his life as long as he stayed in the city of his refuge.
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.' Our Lord Jesus 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.
Divisions: 1. We all need a refuge.
2. The Lord Jesus Christ is just such a Refuge as we need.
3. Having fled to Christ for refuge, we must abide in him.
I. We all need a refuge.
A refuge is something we need when we are in trouble or sense that we are in danger. We have all taken refuge in a time of storm. But there only one Refuge who can shelter our souls from the storm of God’s wrath. The Lord Jesus Christ is that great friend o whom sinners may turn and in whom alone sinners find refuge. Christ is our strong castle, our walled city, our mighty fortress, our high tower. Christ is the ark of safety to shield us from the impending wrath of God. Just as Noah fled into the ark and there found refuge from the waters of the flood, we must flee to Christ. In him alone we find refuge from the flood of God’s wrath.
A. We all need refuge in Christ because we are all, by nature, guilty sinners, under the sentence of God’s holy law; and te wrath of God is upon us.
Every son of Adam, by nature, stands before the holy Lord God guilty of sin, condemned by the law, and in immediate danger of hell.
1. We are all guilty sinners before the holy God (Isa. 1:4-6; Rom. 3:10-12, 19, 23; 5:12, 18-19).
2. Because of our guilt and sin, we are all justly condemned by God’s holy law.
Our babies are not born in innocence, but in sin. We did not come into this world on probation, but under condemnation. Will you hear the Word of God?
God help you to hear me. Oh, hear me now, for Christ’s sake. If you are yet without Christ, you are, right now, under the wrath of God, in immediate danger of hell. God is offended with you. You have broken his law. You break every commandment constantly. You dishonor his name. You reject his authority. You despise his Son, his gospel, and his grace. You killed God’s Son!
God Almighty, the Avenger of blood, is angry with the wicked every day. You may not know it. You may dare even to laugh at me for telling you, but tell you I must. God has unsheathed his glittering sword. He has set his arrow in his bow. If justice overtakes you before you get to Christ and find refuge for your soul in him, you will be forever damned! You will be lost forever in hell!
There is nothing keeping you out of hell right now but the mercy of God! You deserve to be damned forever. You court destruction. You hate the fact that God is God. Yet, he is merciful! So merciful, so gracious, so magnanimous is our God that he whose justice is offended has made his own dear Son a sin-atoning refuge for guilty sinners!
3. Some of you are self-righteous, self-sufficient, and secure with your refuge of lies (Isa. 28:15-17).
4. Some of you, I hope, know your guilt before God.
It is no common mercy to be made aware of your guilt. Few people ever experience such a thing. But knowing your guilt is not salvation. Salvation is fleeing for refuge to Christ!
B. You who are believers, who have fled for refuge to Christ, are in constant need of your dear Savior as a Refuge for your souls.
Children of God, never be reluctant to flee to Christ for refuge! He delights for us to take refuge in him (Heb. 4:16).
1. Christ is our Refuge to preserve us in temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).
2. Christ is our Refuge to comfort us in trouble (John 14:1-3).
My brother, my sister, cast all your care on him. He cares for you!
3. Christ is our Refuge to protect us from every danger (Ps. 56:3; 112:7).
II. the lord jesus christ is such a refuge as we need.
The six cities of refuge beautifully portray our Lord Jesus Christ. You understand that no type of Christ is a perfect representation of him. But there are numerous details given about these cities which appear to be specifically designed by God to point us to Christ, as he is presented in the gospel as the only Refuge for guilty sinners.
A. The cities of refuge were appointed by God himself.
They were not devised and concocted y men. Even so, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior appointed by God to be the efuge for our souls (Rom. 3:24-26)
As these cities of refuge anticipated the need of criminals before any crime was committed, so the Lord God, anticipating our great need, appointed Christ to be our Refuge.
B. The cities of refuge were given to provide shelter, safety, and life for people who justly deserved to die.
Christ was given by God so that we who justly deserve to die might never die, but have safety, security, and eternal life in him.
1. If the avenger of blood caught the guilty man outside the city of refuge, he was obliged to kill him; and if God almighty finds you outside of Christ, he is obliged to kill you. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die!”
2. If the guilty man fled into the city of refuge, so long as he was there, he was under the protection of God’s law. Even so, every guilty sinner who flees to Christ by faith is under the protection of God’s holy law and justice!
In Christ God’s elect are totally free from all possibility of condemnation. The law of God cannot do us any harm. The justice of God cannot exact one tithe of an ounce of satisfaction from us! Indeed, the law of God, being fulfilled for us by Christ, is on our side. The justice of God, being fully satisfied for us in Christ, demands our eternal salvation.
Christ, our Ark has born all the furious fulness of God’s wrath to the full extremity of the law’s justice. There is nothing left to be born by his people (Rom. 8:1, 33-34; Gal. 3:13).
Illustration: Noah in the Ark
“Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine!”
C. The cities f refuge were easily seen.
They were built on hills or mountains, so that they might be readily kept in sight by those fleeing for their lives. Here again is a picture of Christ and the gospel. Our great and glorious Christ sits upon God’s holy hill of Zion. He is lifted up to draw all men unto him (John 12:32; Acts 5:31).
1. Every time the gospel is faithfully preached, Christ the Refuge is held up before the eyes of sinful men. Before your very eyes, “Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth” (Gal. 3:1).
2. Every time a preacher lifts up Christ before his congregation, he is like “a city that is set upon a hill” (Matt. 5:14).
D. The road to the city of refuge was clearly marked.
God said, “Thou shalt prepare the way…that every slayer may flee thither” (Deut. 19:3). Signs were posted everywhere in the land pointing to the cities, which read, “REFUGE!”
In the gospel God has so plainly declared the way of salvation in Christ that “way faring men, though fools, shall not err therein” (Isa. 35:8; Rom. 10:6-10).
E. The six cities of refuge were easily accessible.
They were all located in the midst of the land, so that they could be reached easily and quickly. As I told you earlier, the road was kept clean and smooth. Every obstacle was removed. What is the significance of that? It is just this…
1. The way to Christ is short and easy. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
2. Many obstacles lay in the way between guilty sinners and the place of safety. But Christ removed them all!
a. The law must be fulfilled. Christ did it!
b. Justice must be satisfied. Christ did it!
c. Sin must be removed. Christ did it!
d. Satan must be conquered and bound. Christ did it!
F. These cities of refuge were, by the command of God, open to both Jews and Gentiles.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is a Refuge for sinners out f every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue under the sun.
Don’t miss this - The cities of refuge were provided only for those men who were guilty of manslaughter. Christ is the Refuge for sinners guilty of every kind of sin! The Son of God is the sinner’s Refuge (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
G. The safety of those criminals who fled to the cities of refuge was completely wrapped up in the life nd death of God’s high priest.
The cities of refuge were all in the inheritance of the Levites because there is no hope of mercy from God but by God’s appointed Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a double type here.
1. When the high priest died, the guilty man went free.
When the Lord Jesus Christ died at Calvary, he obtained eternal redemption for God’s elect and bught ur everlasting freedom by his precious blood.
2. So long as the high priest was living, no harm could befall those guilty criminals who dwelled in the cities of refuge.
Though Christ died, he lives forever at God’s right hand, as the High Priest over the house of God. All is safe, child of God, because our great High Priest lives forever!
H. Only those cities appointed by God were cities of refuge.
There is no refuge for sinners but that one appointed and ordained by God himself. The only refuge for our guilty souls is the Lord Jesus Christ.
· Not Sinai - Christ!
· Not Religion - Christ!
· Not Feelings - Christ!
· Not Baptism - Christ!
· Not Good Works - Christ!
· Not Morality - Christ!
The only place of refuge for our souls is in him who died for sinners at Mt. Calvary, the crucified Christ, the Son of God, our Savior!
“Other refuge have I none, Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.
Leave, ah, leave me not alone; Still support and comfort me.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide! Till the storm of life is past!
Safe into the haven guide, Oh, receive my soul at last!”
“Rock f Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee!
Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure: Save from wrath and make me pure!”
I. The man slayer had to be within the city to be safe.
This may just be the most important part of my message for some f you. Listen carefully. Knowing all abut the city was of no benefit to the guilty. He might know all the history of the city, know all the inhabitants of the city, and be able to recite all the laws of the city; but if the avenger of blood caught him outside the city, he was a dead man!
It was not enough for him to admire the city, talk about the beauty and wonders of the city, or even defend the city. He must be in the city!
My friend, if you would be saved, you must be in Christ! To know about Christ, to profess faith in Christ, to admire Christ, or even to defend the name and doctrine of Christ is nothing. You must be in Christ. Salvation, everything is in Christ.
Believers, like the man slayer, gladly leave everything and everyone behind, flee to Christ, lie in the bosom of the Redeemer, cast all their care on him, and rest in his all-sufficiency!
IV. Now, Having Fled To Christ For Refuge, We Must Abide In Him.
We must abide in Christ. This is the doctrine of perseverance. True believers and never leave him. Believers continue in faith.
To deny Christ or depart from him is to perish (Heb. 10:38-39).
A. We abide in Christ because we find in him, and in him alone, everything we need.
B. We abide in Christ because he is the only refuge who can stand the scrutiny of divine judgment.
Behold in his head, his hands, his feet, and his side the marks of judgment!
“Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay,
While through Thy blood absolved I am
From sin’s tremendous guilt and blame?”
Illustration: Rowland Hill’s Dream
THE NAMES OF THE CITIES
The man slayer in Israel had to flee to one of the cities of refuge which God had appointed. If he had fled to any other city for refuge, he would have found no mercy. The avenger of blood would find him and slay him. If he would be saved, he must flee to the refuge God had appointed.
Even so, all who would be saved by the grace of God must flee by faith to the refuge God has appointed, and that refuge is Christ. 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved' (Acts 4:12). The only refuge for our souls is the Lord Jesus Christ. Both for salvation and for the consolation of our souls in any time of trouble, we must flee to Christ alone.
· Christ is our Refuge, not the church.
· Christ is our Refuge, not our works.
· Christ is our Refuge, not a creed, confession, or catechism.
· Christ is our Refuge, not a religious ceremony.
Salvation is obtained only by fleeing to Christ. There was no place of mercy, peace, safety and rest for the man slayer until he ran through the gates into one of those cities of refuge. It was not enough that he knew where the city was located, how large the city was, what provisions were in the city and how to get to the city. If he would be saved he must enter the city. Once he entered the city four things happened:
1. He declared his cause, confessing his offense.
2. He came under the protection of the city.
3. He received a complete acquittal of all guilt.
4. He was cleansed from all guilt, representatively, when the high priest died.
5. He was safe in the city as long as the high priest lived.
None of these benefits were his until he entered the city. But once he entered, all were his, and his soul was safe, peaceful, and at rest.
Tonight, I ant to talk to you about THE NAMES OF THE CITIES OF REFUGE. These cities of refuge are such a clear, beautiful, and full type of Christ that even the names of the cities are full of instruction and comfort for our souls.
I. Kedesh means 'holy'.
Christ is the holy one, both as God and as man. Being the holy God-man, he is abundantly qualified to be our Mediator, Saviour and Redeemer. Christ is made of God unto us righteousness and holiness, justification and sanctification (Ps. 16:10; Heb. 7:26; 1 Cor. 1:30).
II. Shechem means 'the shoulder'.
Christ carried the enormous load of our sin in his body upon the cross and put it away (Isa. 53:6.) The government of the world in general and of his church in particular is upon his shoulder (Isa. 9:6). And in conversion, he finds his lost sheep, lays it upon his shoulder and carries it home (Luke 15:4).
III. Hebron means 'fellowship'.
'Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ' (I 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 (I Cor. 1:9; Eph. 2:18; John 17:24).
IV. 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' (Ps. 91:2). 'The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe' (Prov. 18: 10). Christ is the fortress and defense of his people, the stronghold in which the prisoners of hope are secured.
V. Ramoth means 'exalted'.
Christ is our exalted Saviour. 'God hath highly exalted him' (Phil. 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 (Eph. 2:4-7). And Christ is the one we exalt, honour and magnify (Rev. 5:9-10).
VI. Golan means 'revealed', or 'manifested'.
Christ is God manifest in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16). He is the one revealed to us, to whom we are called and by whom we are saved (Gal. 1: 15-16). In Christ the glory of God is revealed (2 Cor. 4:6). And that revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is salvation.
It is my prayer that God, by his Spirit, will manifest and reveal himself to you in Christ Jesus, and cause you to flee for refuge unto him who alone is the Refuge for sinners.
1. Christ is the Refuge.
2. The way is open.
3. The way is clear.
4. Christ himself bids you flee to him for refuge (Matt. 11:28).
5. Flee away to Christ, flee away to Christ, and live forever!