Christ: Our City of Refuge
The Cities of Refuge (Numbers 35, Joshua 20, Deuteronomy 4, 19), remind us of Christ Jesus our hiding place. God commanded that when His people came into possession of the land six Cities of Refuge should be appointed, to which he who slew a man, through ignorance or unintentionally, might flee from the avenger of blood who, according to Eastern custom, would pursue and kill the man-slayer. Three cities on each side of the Jordan River were provided for a man-slayer guilty of second-degree murder.
Those cities of refuge portray how Christ shelters the sinner from death. It was a very marvelous provision for a man who accidentally killed someone. Maybe the one whom he killed had a hotheaded brother who wanted vengeance. So the fugitive could escape to a city of refuge where he would be protected and his case tried. The elders of the city would investigate the case. If he was acquitted of intentional killing he must remain within the city until the death of the high priest.
Christ is Portrayed by the Cities of Refuge
The similarities between the cities of refuge and Christ, our refuge, are striking. We can compare them point for point.
First, Christ is easy to reach. We may cast ourselves upon Christ at any time, in any place. The Church is to be the teller of this good news. The Church is to cry, "Refuge! Refuge!" to the lost world. This emphasis is made at the very end of the Bible in the book of Revelation: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17).
Second, Christ is open to all — the Jew and the Gentile, the Greek and the barbarian, to all people. Listen to the echoes of Christ's open arms throughout the Scriptures: Isaiah 45:22 "Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other;" Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" Revelation 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."
Third, Christ never locks His gates. There is no need to wake Him. He is infinite; He is God; He is never asleep. We do not have to beat upon the door and die because He does not open it. Many have stood by a deathbed and seen men believe in the last moments of life. It is good that there is no gate to unlock and that men can enter quickly. What a picture of Christ! Certainly the "way to the city" is clear! No one need ever wonder how to come to Him, for we come to Him by faith. He will never turn any sinner away (John 6:37). High roads led to each city, and their gates were always open.
Fourth, Christ is a completely sufficient refuge. Christ's death in space-time history is completely adequate to meet our need for refuge from the true moral guilt which we have. It is final because of who He is. He is the infinite second person of the Trinity; therefore, His death has infinite value.
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