Numbers 35:9-16, 19, 22-28
The Israelites, in common with other nations, had among them the institution of blood-revenge, by which the nearest relative was bound to revenge a mans death. To meet the evils connected with this deep-seated custom, places were appointed to which the manslayer might flee, and be secure till the time came for a fair trial.
Numbers 35:12, 14
These were chosen on each side of the river, that a refuge might be accessible to every man; even so is Jesus a Saviour freely presented to all who desire him. The roads were repaired, and hand-posts set up to direct fugitives, and thus the gospel is made plain, so that he who runs may read.
No sooner had the fearful deed been done than the unhappy manslayer hastened at full speed to the nearest refuge, for the blood-avenger was sure to pursue him and demand life for life. Oh! that sinners would up and away to Jesus, their sole and sure salvation.
God provided no sanctuary for real guilt, murder was not winked at, else had the land become both polluted and unsafe. Mercy to murderers would be cruelty to the innocent. It was accidental or unpremeditated killing which here found shelter. The spiritual fact, however, far excels the type, for in Jesus, the real sinner finds pardon and safety.
There he was safe, no avenging hand could touch him—Fair picture of the security of those who rest in Jesus, the refuge of guilty souls;
The death of the high priest brought freedom to the man who had fled for refuge. The instruction here lies upon the surface.
We are not now under the restraints and conditions which were imposed upon a dweller in a refuge city; for our Great High Priest is dead, we are liberated unconditionally, we have no avenger to fear, but may possess our inheritance in peace. This, however, is only true of believers—are we all such?
When God’s right arm is bared for war,
And thunders clothe his cloudy car,
Where? Where? Oh where shall man retire
To escape the horror of his ire?
‘Tis he, the Lamb, to him we fly,
While the dread tempest passes by:
God sees His Well-Beloved’s face,
And spares us in our hiding-place.