Cities of refuge were not for murderers

Numbers Bible Background

03.05.2017 – Old Testament: Num 35.16–21

To read the Bible in a year, read Numbers 34–36 on March 5, In the year of our Lord 2017

By Don Ruhl

One of the many blessings that the Lord provided for Israel in the Land of Canaan was six cities of refuge, whereby someone who killed another person accidentally, could flee to the closest city of refuge to escape the potential wrath of the victim’s family. However, the Lord made it clear that the cities of refuge were not for murderers,

“But if he strikes him with an iron implement, so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. And if he strikes him with a stone in the hand, by which one could die, and he does die, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. Or if he strikes him with a wooden hand weapon, by which one could die, and he does die, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. The avenger of blood himself shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. If he pushes him out of hatred or, while lying in wait, hurls something at him so that he dies, or in enmity he strikes him with his hand so that he dies, the one who struck him shall surely be put to death. He is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when he meets him (Numbers 35.16–21). 

The Lord blessed Israel with these cities of refuge, but He knew that some people would misuse them or rather abuse them, and He passed judgment on those who did. God offered Israel grace, even as He offers us grace, but not that we might take advantage of Him.

Questions:

  • Have you killed someone, whether unintentionally or intentionally?
  • Do you know that forgiveness is available to you?

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