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Discover the Book - June 21, 2008

  • 2008 Jun 21

Christ - Our City of Refuge

Yesterday we saw how Christ our forerunner has forever anchored our souls safely in heaven. If that were all there was for us in Hebrews 6—that would be enough for a lifetime of hope. But there is more.

Turn with me again to Hebrews 6:17. Look again at these precious words of security, comfort and hope—because there is so much MORE from God's Word for us!

  •  Hebrews 6:17-20 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

God has provided us with "strong consolation (NAS, encouragement)” (v. 18). “We who have fled for refuge” is a New Testament allusion to an incredible Old Testament example for us today. These were cities God had provided for people living in Israel in the Old Testament times, who sought protection from avengers for an accidental killing (cf. Num. 35; Deut. 19; Josh. 20).

How do we run to Him? He tells us we come by “laying hold of the hope set before us” (v. 18). What is that hope? It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  The only way to have a strong confidence and a steadfast hope, is to seek refuge in God and embrace Jesus Christ, who is our only hope of salvation[1].

The Greek word in Hebrews that is translated “refuge” (in KJV, NKJV, and NASB) is the same one used in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) in the passages describing the cities of refuge. The writer of Hebrews is telling us that the only way to experience the power of God that saves us is when we run to Him in desperation--for refuge.

And to understand one of the clearest explanations of entering into the refuge of Christ, turn with me to Joshua 20. When Israel entered the Promised Land, God gave them a constant reminder of His salvation. This reminder was ordered by God to be set up in the Land as a visible symbol of Him as God their Savior 24/7/365 across the entire land.

What was that reminder? A strategically placed group of six cities called the Cities of Refuge. There is actually a whole chapter of the Bible (Joshua 20) devoted to these cities. There are many pictures of salvation in God's Word—Jesus used the serpent lifted up, the manna, Paul used the rock, and both used the Passover lamb. But one of the most beautiful, the most powerful, the most amazing pictures of Jesus Christ is tucked away in one of those back corners of the Scriptures. That picture is one that shows Jesus is always waiting, His arms are always open, the door is never locked—the clearest picture of Christ as Savior is seen in the cities of refuge.

  • "And they [assigned] Kedesh in Galilee in Mount Naphtali, and Shechem in Mount Ephraim, and Kirjath-arba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah. And on the other side [of the] Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh. These were the cities assigned for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger who sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person without intent might flee the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation." (Joshua 20:7-9)

Amazingly to me, that archaic system of justice from the Old Testament shows up, of all places, in the New Testament and in the person of Christ.

As we continue this study tomorrow we will see together the Savior of sinners in the Cities of Refuge.


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