Refuge! #3

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares (Numbers 35:11 KJV).

Look closely! Could there be something prophetic here?

The LORD God commanded Joshua, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses: That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood” (Joshua 20:2,3). If someone in time past killed another accidentally—namely, without premeditation—that manslayer could seek safety in one of the “cities of refuge” (today’s Scripture). These six cities were strategically placed throughout the land of Israel: they were easily accessible, especially since the paths to them were cleared and maintained. Such facts will prove highly important to our discussion later (your patience is greatly appreciated).

Once again, remember the difference between “manslaughter” and “murder.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines “manslaughter” as “the crime of killing a human being without malice aforethought, or in circumstances not amounting to murder.” In stark contrast, “murder” is “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.”

When Messiah Jesus visited Israel during His three-year earthly ministry, He was overwhelmingly mocked, rejected, and finally crucified. It was downright murder, an intentional killing, for they had already repeatedly schemed to take His life (Matthew 12:14; Matthew 26:3-5,14-16; Mark 11:18; Luke 22:2; John 7:1; John 8:59; John 10:31; John 11:51-54; et cetera). They would not have Him reign over them, they would not admit their sin problem, and they would not relinquish their vain religious system. Christ’s crucifixion was no accident, but a carefully orchestrated event resulting from Israel’s religious leaders conspiring with the Roman government (Psalm 2:1-3; Acts 4:25-28).

Therefore, we are startled to read Luke 23:34. As Christ hangs on Calvary’s cross, greatly suffering and slowly dying, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” In an unfathomable act of compassion toward Israel, the Lord Jesus utters something astonishing. He wants His Heavenly Father to consider this—not murder!—but manslaughter, a killing done in ignorance….