On my car ride into work today I listened to Joshua 20 as one of the selected chapters for my daily dive into the Word. This chapter is about the Cities of Refuge throughout the Kingdom of Israel, where one who accidentally killed someone could flee without fear of being taken and killed for vengeance in the eye for an eye punishment laid out in Exodus.
As I was listening to this, it occurred to me that these cities and this specific type of asylum had been brought up multiple times before in the bible. These cities or the idea behind them are all described Exodus 21: 12-14, Numbers 35: 11-24 and Deuteronomy 19:3 before we get to Joshua. With the sudden realization of this repetition and the idea that everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus, I started to think about what this meant.
Starting with the obvious, Jesus: He was killed, however his death wasn’t accidental. It was planned since the beginning of time. Those crying out for his blood could not seek this asylum even if they wished to, and in an abstract sense, they did pay with their blood in AD 70 when the Romans came through and wiped out the temple in Jerusalem, fulfilling eye for an eye punishment. But we know that it was because of Jesus’ sacrifice, that we have a path to heaven and forgiveness through His grace.
If you accept the Lord into your heart, and trust in Jesus, then path to heaven is clear, much like the roads that lead to the cities of refuge. These roads were twice as wide and smoother than normal roads to make travel to the cites as unhindered as possible, this is according to the Talmud, to which I admit, I have not read but did come across that description while researching this essay.
But the path we’re on is not always clear and easy, is it? There are obstacles. There is the enemy. There is sin. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he teaches that the wages of sin is death, and while someone may not die due to my being prideful of the new television hanging up on my wall, there is a degree of spiritual death in sin. It’s not purposeful. I’ve gotten a new toy and I’m excited about it. I tell all sorts of people about it. The size, the picture clarity, features, etc. It’s boasting, and I don’t even realize it’s happening until after the fact. What happens when someone gets a bigger TV, or a newer one than mine? Will I be envious? Probably. It’s in our nature, and it’s another sin. Something else that comes naturally, and is unintended. Another accidental killing off of a part of my spiritual being.
Now look back to Jesus. He showed us death is overcome. We too can and will overcome death. He laid out an obvious path that is clear and easy to see. Our walk with the Lord is our own walk along the wide road to the city of refuge fleeing all of the spiritual manslaughter that takes place on a daily basis in each of our lives. The Lord commanded that once the perpetrator arrived at the city he was to tell the elders what happened and why he needed their refuge. Someday too, I will arrive in heaven, and present to the Lord all I have done. He will find a place for me in his kingdom of refuge.