Joshua 20:1-3 1 Then the LORD said to Joshua: 2 “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, 3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.
Looks like revenge comes naturally; it must be at the core of our humanity. That’s really strange, though. Did God really create us that way? Did He put this in us? I think what He put in us was justice. He put in us rightness. And since sin has corrupted the flesh, it fleshes itself out as revenge sometimes. Revenge is really just taking justice into our own hands. It is righting our own wrongs.
The problem with revenge is that it leaves no room for grace. And while it is based on justice, it is led by emotion. It is for this reason that God set up cities of refuge for the Israelites. It was to protect people from revenge when they accidentally killed someone. Now I am sure that there were people who were “accidentally” killed if you know what I mean, but this system was really for the true accident. It was for the guy who was chopping wood and the head of his axe flew off and killed someone.
God obviously knew that people need a cooling off period. But there were no waiting periods for guns back then. If you killed my brother, I had the right to kill you. It was an eye for an eye, a life for a life. There was no grace involved in their way of living. It was just straight up law. So long before Jesus, God found a way to introduce grace. He found a way to preserve lives that deserved to be preserved. He made room for accidents and failures. Why? Because God was more concerned with the heart intentions of people than He was their actions and mistakes.
Nothing has really changed, friends. God is still more concerned with the heart than He is with our successes and failures. But God has done something wonderful for us. He has given us a city of refuge that will never fade away. The name of the city is Jesus. That is where grace is found and justice reigns. He is the place that makes all things right. So if you have blown it today, run to the city of refuge. And to those who are seeking revenge – remember the city of refuge. Remember that you live there too.