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Cities of Refuge

Joshua Appoints Cities of Refuge

‘Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the manslayer who strikes any person without intent or unknowingly may flee there. They shall be for you a refuge from the avenger of blood. He shall flee to one of these cities and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and explain his case to the elders of that city. Then they shall take him into the city and give him a place, and he shall remain with them. And if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not give up the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unknowingly, and did not hate him in the past. And he shall remain in that city until he has stood before the congregation for judgment, until the death of him who is high priest at the time. Then the manslayer may return to his own town and his own home, to the town from which he fled.’” ‘

Joshua 20:1-6
Cities of Refuge

Six cities of refuge were set for the people of Israel. Three were located west of the Jordan River and three were east of it. The three cities west of the Jordan were: Kedesh (in the land of Naphtali), Shechem (in the western part of Manasseh’s inheritance) and Hebron (in the land of Judah). The ones on the east side of the Jordan river were Golan (in the land of Bashan), Ramoth-Gilead (in the eastern part of Manasseh’s inheritance), and Bezer (in the land of Reuben). You can see a helpful map taken from jimbomkamp.

Jimbomkamp mentions on his site that Arthur Pink wrote about how if the definition of each of the names of the 6 cities of refuge are put together that they reveal the work of Jesus Christ in providing refuge to us, His people.

  • Schechem means “shoulder” which is the place of strength (Isaiah 9:7) and of safety (Luke 15:5)—under the government of Christ the believer finds security.  
  • Hebron means “fellowship” and through Christ, His people are brought into communion with the Father.  
  • Bezer means “a fortified place” and “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble” (Nahum 1:7);  therefore “I will say of the Lord He is my refuge and my fortress:  my God;  in Him will I trust” (Psalm 41:2).  
  • Ramoth means “height” or “exaltation”:  in Christ, we are elevated above the world, made to sit in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).  
  • Golan means “exultation” or “joy” and “we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:11).
  • Kedesh means “holy” or “sacred”. Christ has set us apart for God. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9)

God’s Promise Fulfilled

‘ Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.’

Joshua 21:43-45

It’s amazing to see God fulfilling His promise here. The Bible mentions that not one word of all His promises failed…it all came to pass! It’s also incredible to see God’s promise fulfilled to Caleb here. May we reflect on this for a moment today. God can not lie, He can’t promise and not deliver. This should be a great encouragement to us today.

Also at the end of Joshua’s life, he said the following to the people of Israel:

‘“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. ‘

Joshua 23:14

What promises from the Bible do you hold dear to your heart?

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