As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbor to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live. — Deuteronomy 19:5
Have you ever felt like “fleeing” to a place of refuge? Perhaps life has been a little stressful and you are being pulled in many different directions. Your children require your attention, your spouse is ill, your dog needs to be taken to the vet, and you are facing multiple deadliines on your job. Life is filled with circumstances that stretch our determination and endurance. The daily demands of life can be wearing on our physical bodies and emotionally draining, but God has provided a place where we can go for renewal, release, and refuge.
God has a quiet place, away from the elements that bring us stress, where we can experience the rejuvenating balm of His care and love. In the shadow of His wings, we can find comfort, reassurance, and protection. Besides being a place of shelter, it is a place where we can take our cares to the Lord. It is a secret place where God unfolds His love to us by planting the truth of His promises in our hearts as we delight in His presence.
We may wonder how we can attain such a place of restful comfort. Through Jesus dying on the Cross, God created a clear pathway for us to be able to reach Him through our prayers. Of course, we start by asking Him to come into our hearts and experiencing His saving power. When our sins are forgiven, the weight of sin is gone, and we become new people, with a fresh view of life. Circumstances around us may not have changed, but our perspective has.
When we have been saved, God wants us to maintain a close relationship with Him through prayer. He has many things to teach us and show us. That place of quiet serenity becomes a place of joy where we return again and again for strength for the day, inner peace, protection, and solitude of mind and soul.
God commanded the Children of Israel to establish three “cities of refuge,” where anyone who claimed to have accidentally killed someone could find safety until he had a fair trial. If he was found innocent of intentional murder, he could remain in that city and be safe from those who would seek revenge. The Promised Land was to be divided into three parts, with one city of refuge in the center of each. They were to build proper roads to these cities, and keep them in good repair. If the Lord enlarged their coasts, they were to add three more cities on the other side of Jordan. Since their practice had been “eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” this was God’s provision to protect the innocent.
God also gave them laws regarding the removal of landmarks, the punishment of false witnesses, war, and sieges. God commanded that they not remove their neighbors’ landmarks to enlarge their own. Since stones or posts marked their property lines, a dishonest person could have easily moved the lines a little at a time and not get caught. However, God warned them against doing that. He also warned them against being false witnesses. The punishment for this was to have the false witness punished as he had wanted done to the other person. For protection, testimonies from two or three witnesses were required to convict a man.
God ordered the priests to encourage the people when they were going to battle. He wanted them to know that He would be on their side and fight for them. The officers were to dismiss those who did not wish to participate because of fear, or for the specific reasons God listed. He also gave them laws on what to do when they approached a city for battle; how to overtake it, and what to do with the spoil. If the inhabitants of a nation outside of Canaan would not surrender, the Children of Israel were to destroy all the males and keep the women, children, and the cattle. However, if they were fighting against a Canaanite city, they were to destroy everything. Nothing was to be preserved.
Though God instructed the Israelites to utterly destroy their enemies, He also taught them to have compassion on those who were too timid to fight. The laws He set in motion were for their protection and showed His infinite wisdom and balance between justice and mercy.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The second discourse: exposition of the Law
C. The exposition of the principle laws of Israel
2. Civil legislation
c. Laws concerning criminal action (19:1-21)
(1) Laws concerning the cities of refuge (19:1-13)
(a) The provision of the cities (19:1-3)
(b) The right use of the cities (19:4-10)
(c) The illegitimate use of the cities (19:11-13)
(2) Laws concerning the removal of landmarks (19:14)
(3) Laws concerning the punishment of false witnesses (19:15-21)
d. Laws concerning wars (20:1-20)
(1) An exhortation to fearlessness (20:1-4)
(2) Laws governing military exemption (20:5-9)
(3) Laws governing sieges (20:10-20)
Today, God still has laws set in motion for our protection from the enemy of our souls, the devil. Through the Blood of Jesus, His Son, we have access to refuge in times of need. Whether you are having a stressful day, or whether you are surrounded by impossible circumstances, God is in control of your life, and His refuge and comfort is only a prayer away.