It is interesting that in Numbers 35 God establishes “cities of refuge.” These cites are where someone can flee who has committed manslaughter and be spared from the “avenger of blood.” Anyone living in a city of refuge cannot be harmed so long as he remains inside. “But if the manslayer shall at any time go beyond the boundaries of his city of refuge to which he fled, and the avenger of blood finds him outside the boundaries of his city of refuge, and the avenger of blood kills the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of blood” (vv.26-27). Additionally we are told that “he must remain in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest, but after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession” (v.28). Thus, as long as the high priest lives and the guilty person remains in the city of refuge, he remains safe and secure. What is clear from passages like Gen. 6:5; Ps. 58:3; Jer. 17:9; Matt. 5:21-30, Rom. 3:11-18; 8:7-8, is that we have all committed murder in our hearts, and worse. And the “avenger of blood” who seeks to destroy us is God himself. We have all violated the Laws of God and in the Old Testament God made clear that “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). But there is a way of escape. In Psalm 18:2 we read, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” The very one who demands the soul that sins shall die is also the very one who is our city of refuge. So long as we run to God and remain in him, we are safe from the justice and the wrath of God. And just as in Number 35, we are safe so long as our high priest lives and we remain under his care and protection. The good news is that Hebrews 7:24-25 tells us that Christ “holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Praise be to God we have a high priest and a city of refuge that will last forever!
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