Cities of Refuge
There were six cities of refuge. Three on the east side of the Jordan; they were, Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah. The three on the west side of the Jordan, were, 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 cities west of the Jordan River were in territory given to Israel but currently are cities within the nation of Jordan.
Because these cities over time became hotbeds for crime they eventually ceased from being affective. By the time of Josiah's reign, the cities east of the Jordan were no longer controlled by the Israelites. Even the cities east of the Jordan were abolished before King Josiah’s reign to reform a fallen kingdom.
Everything about these cities of refuge was to be prophetic pictures of Yeshua (Jesus) and His atoning blood sacrifice. The Lord was painting a picture of His mercy, grace, and forgiveness by assigning these six cities to be sanctuaries. He assigned six cities to flee to for unintentional crimes; six being the number of man. One could run to the city and be safe from the avenger. A sinner can run to Jesus and be safe from the devil. The fugitive was to stand at the gate of the city and confess to the elders at the gate his reason for fleeing to the city of refuge. Jesus is the gate or the door. If we confess our sins the Lord is gracious to forgive. The code was to build a road to the city for easy access. The road was to be smooth and it was twice as wide as a normal road. It was to have signs along the way pointing to the city of refuge. Messiah is the sign for redemption and reconciliation. All of this was to see to it that the fugitive could reach the city unhindered. The road that leads to salvation is easy to find...there are signs everywhere....and the road is smooth and not difficult...all one has to do is ask.
Each city had a Priestly Code; painting a picture of the atoning sacrifice of the lamb of God, Yeshua the Messiah. When a fugitive claimed the city as an asylum he was to be taken from the city and put on trial. If he was proven innocent, (let’s say for killing his neighbor unintentionally) he could return to the city of refuge unharmed and safe from any avenger of blood. For the Priestly Code stated that no harm was to come to the perpetrator. This paints a beautiful picture that one can be free from punishment; for Yeshua took upon Himself all punishment for our sin that we might be free.
The final brush stroke from the Master of this picture is that the Priestly Code provided that the perpetrator was completely free to leave the city; but only at the death of the High Priest of the city. Cities of refuge were a prophetic enactment of a future atonement that was to take place on a cross in the city of Jerusalem. Our High Priest Jesus shed His blood for every sin ever committed, He died descending into hell to set the captives free, He was resurrected from death to life becoming the first fruits of all those that will put their trust in Him and Him alone; insuring those that do eternal life. The death of our High Priest has set us free. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. JESUS IS OUR CITY OF REFUGE!
In His Service,
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