Cities of Refuge - Numbers 35
Cities of Refuge - Numbers 35
We see the fairness and righteousness of God as He gave Israel cities of refuge throughout their land. This allowed a manslayer a place of protection. The fairness is especially seen in that God provided 6 such cities distributed throughout the land. No matter where a person lived, a refuge was available close by. This did NOT keep one from being tried, but provided that he would live long enough to have a trial! If guilty of murder, the death penalty still was to be given. I find it amazing all the little things that God thought of and provided for in His law!
Another aspect of these cities of refuge also comes to light. The land, all of the land, was promised to Israel. The time of the fulfillment of the promise had now drawn near (see Acts 7:17). Under the leadership of Joshua they were to enter and take all of the land. It has been argued that Israel never received this promise, that is, they never received ALL of the land. Here is where the promise of the cities of refuge enters in.
As Moses directs the generation that was about to go into the land, he instructs them to build THREE cities, one in each of the 'three parts of the territory' (Deut. 19:2 -3, 7). THEN he adds: "“If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, just as He has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land which He promised to give your fathers— if you carefully observe all this commandment which I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in His ways always—then you shall add three more cities for yourself, besides these three." (Deuteronomy 19:8–9).
These other three cities were to be added WHEN God gave them ALL the land which He promised to give to their fathers! The total of SIX cities was to be built upon the receiving of all the land. In Joshua 20, the LORD instructed Joshua to build all six cities, thus, we know that they had received ALL the land.
Add to this, the plain statement of Joshua: "All the cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the sons of Israel were forty-eight cities with their pasture lands. These cities each had its surrounding pasture lands; thus, it was with all these cities. So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass." (Joshua 21:41–45).
God GAVE them all the land that He had promised. God WARNED them that they could stay in the land ONLY if they were faithful to the covenant. They were unfaithful, and God destroyed them from off the land.
Through Jesus, we are promised a BETTER land - dwelling with God. Jesus is King and Lord NOT just over the small land promised to Abraham, but over the whole universe. God's kingdom is no longer restricted either nationally or geographically.