Q. Peace and grace to you and yours. I have been studying in the book of Joshua and I came across the part where God tells Joshua to make six cities for those who have accidentally killed someone and they can go to one of these cities to seek refuge from the avenger. Topically, I understand this. What I’m wondering is if there is a deeper meaning to it. I know that (a well known bible teacher) says if you come across some scripture that is confusing to put Christ in the center of it. Is there something going on with these six cities other then just the idea of a ” safe house” for those Israelites seeking shelter until they can prove their innocence? As always, thanks for your efforts. God bless.
A. You’re referring to the 6 Cities of Refuge mentioned in Deut. 19 and Joshua 20. In those days there was no police force so it was the duty of the first born son to avenge the untimely death of a family member. Since a relative of the deceased could not be counted on to be objective, the killer could flee to a City of Refuge to plead his case to the elders there. If they agreed that the death was accidental they were required to protect the killer from the avenger of blood (as the first born was called) by keeping him inside the city walls until the death of the current High Priest where upon he was set free and was no longer subject to the death penalty.
Cities of Refuge are a model of Christ. When we flee to Him we are protected from the one who wants to take our life (Satan). Once there the death of our High Priest (Jesus) has set us free so we are no longer subject to death.
Like most types, the Cities of Refuge are incomplete. The Israelites had to get there before being caught or else they were fair game. Jesus meets us right where we are the moment we call. The elders of the city had to agree that the death was accidental and therefore the perpetrator was not guilty. Jesus protects us knowing that we are guilty. If the perpetrator wandered out of the city, he was fair game for the avenger. Once we’re in Jesus we can’t wander away.