JOSHUA‬ ‭20‬:‭1‬-‭9‬

“The Lord said to Joshua, “Now tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed Moses. Anyone who kills another person accidentally and unintentionally can run to one of these cities; they will be places of refuge from relatives seeking revenge for the person who was killed. “Upon reaching one of these cities, the one who caused the death will appear before the elders at the city gate and present his case. They must allow him to enter the city and give him a place to live among them. If the relatives of the victim come to avenge the killing, the leaders must not release the slayer to them, for he killed the other person unintentionally and without previous hostility. But the slayer must stay in that city and be tried by the local assembly, which will render a judgment. And he must continue to live in that city until the death of the high priest who was in office at the time of the accident. After that, he is free to return to his own home in the town from which he fled.” The following cities were designated as cities of refuge: Kedesh of Galilee, in the hill country of Naphtali; Shechem, in the hill country of Ephraim; and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), in the hill country of Judah. On the east side of the Jordan River, across from Jericho, the following cities were designated: Bezer, in the wilderness plain of the tribe of Reuben; Ramoth in Gilead, in the territory of the tribe of Gad; and Golan in Bashan, in the land of the tribe of Manasseh. These cities were set apart for all the Israelites as well as the foreigners living among them. Anyone who accidentally killed another person could take refuge in one of these cities. In this way, they could escape being killed in revenge prior to standing trial before the local assembly.”

Joshua‬ ‭20‬:‭1‬-‭9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God knows the hearts of men. Often in the midst of defining and structuring our lives we can become overly zealous in the application of morality. Our finite minds cannot bear the weight of God’s morality without his constant input to guide us. The Jewish conquest of Canaan had resulted in seemingly endless slaughter of God’s enemies. This was seen as a judicial process, in that God was using the Jews to pass judgment upon the gentiles who polluted the land by breaking the moral laws. This would have created a dangerous environment where killing was always seen as a viable way to work through issues of the day. This rule helps to give the people a much needed dose of restraint. I’m infuses God’s sense of justice into God’s sense of wrath and makes clear what role mercy plays in that process. Without something like this, it is possible that every citizen might become judge, jury and executioner. Here we see the beginnings of civilized conventions of society. God is more than wrath. The strong arm of the law wields a sword for slaughter as much as it does for salvation.

Published by Josh McGary

MY NAME IS JOSH MCGARY. First, I am a Pastor of a small church in Portland, Oregon named Aletheia Bible Fellowship. We call it ABF. I have been a pastor there for the better part of 20 years. I am very eclectic. What I love, I love loudly and immersively. I have notable collections of toys, funko pops, and vinyl. I also infamously love pop culture, comic books, technology, the arts, psychology and philosophy.

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