“Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses: That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.” (Joshua 20:2-3)
In this passage we have the LORD commanding Joshua to fulfill that which He spoke to Moses – to establish the “Cities of Refuge.”
The purpose of the cities of “refuge“ (Hebrew: miqlat, meaning “to contract” or “receive”) was to provide a shelter for any who “killeth any person unawares and unwittingly,” which we would referred to as involuntary manslaughter.
The Old Testament makes a clear distinction between murder, premeditated murder and unintentional manslaughter (Numbers 35:16-18; Deuteronomy 19:5).
When a premeditated murder was committed, the penalty must be paid – death. The family “Revenger of Blood” (“Revenger” in the Hebrew is: gaal or goel hadam) was a literal term and function, the person who held this position was the next of kin, or the head of the family in many instances.
The Hebrew word “Revenger” literally means “redeemer”, he who brought back the honor of the family by slaying the murderer (Deut 19:12).
He had two main functions; he could redeem a family member in debt, such as Ruth (Ruth 3:12-13); or he was the “Revenger of Blood,” seeking justice when a family member was murdered (Numbers 35:18-19).
He who took the life of another accidentally, would present himself at the gate of one of the six cities of refuge (The gate to a city was where all legal business was transacted, And where the city Council and Local leaders presided to hear cases and make determinations – Ruth 4:1; 2 Samuel 15:2) and plead his cause to the elders of the city and thus would find shelter in the city.
Later, he had to stand trial before the congregation of the town nearest the scene of the slaying. If found innocent, he was returned to the shelter of the city of refuge until the death of the current high priest (presumably enough time for the wrath of the family of the slain to be abated).
For the sinner, to be found in the city of refuge was to be found in the only place of salvation, which is a pictorial of what Jesus did for us.
Living object Lessons ~ Types and Shadows ~ Examples for Our Learning
This is one of the hundreds of prophetic examples wherein Jesus is found on every page of the Bible through object lessons; rather allegory, similes, metaphor, symbols, Figures of Speech (Please see LINK), types or shadows, as indicated in the following Scriptures (The term for all of these examples is “Expositional Constancy” ~ Please see Endnote #1).
1 Corinthians 10:1-6 ~
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”
Colossians 2:16-17 ~
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
Hebrews 8:5 ~
“Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”
Hebrews 10:1 ~
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”
Jesus Our City of Refuge
Jesus is the only escape for the punishment of sin wherein all of us are guilty and deserve death and damnation When seen in the light of God’s perfection which is reflected in his law.
His law which was meant to be a schoolmaster to teach us the true depths of our sin wherein we all deserve to be separated from God, to be imprisoned where God had created hell and damnation for the Angels that chose to rebel because of their lack of faith.
It is when we come to the end of our self and the understanding of our wickedness, wherein we choose to repent; to change our mind in such a formidable way that it changes are behaviors.
Wherein we forsake our own way and follow Jesus, turning 180° from ourselves; to Him who died for us.
Hebrews 6:18, tells us that
“…it was impossible for God to lie, we have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec“
The sinner can flee to Christ and find eternal refuge and safety. Jesus calls to all and says in Matthew 11:28:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
John 3:16 says,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“Forgive them for they know not what they do”
One of the passages that baffled me for years was Luke 23:34, which states:
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
The reason this baffled me is that the people understood what they were doing, they were crying for an innocent man to be crucified.
A man that did miracles, and only that which was good.
Yet, what we must understand is that this is a technical scientific statement of fact, a statement which IF untrue would never allow us to be redeemed.
You see despite the fact that there were those that understood that Jesus was claiming to be God, in fact most people understood that.
Look at every situation where Jesus does or says something wherein afterwards the religious leaders and Pharisees pick up stones to stone Him, these are situations where he claims deity. The punishment for blasphemy by claiming to be God is stoning.
Jesus claimed to be Divine (See Endnote # 2).
Yet in spite of his assertions and the belief by many that he is the son of God, as a nation; they did not recognize their Messiah.
Two Comings – Two Roles
God in His great wisdom presents Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah wherein the Messiah comes to earth twice in totally different roles.
The Jews received those passages concerning the Messiah on a white horse to kill the enemies of Israel, which we Christians recognize to be the Second Coming of Jesus.
Yet the Jew, not knowing how to handling the Suffering Servant passages found largely within the book of Isaiah, with many references in the major and minor prophets, the typology set within the Torah; simply ignore these passages.
In fact, many tore Isaiah chapter 53 out of their manuscripts.
But then the Dead Sea Scrolls, that were much older than their manuscripts were found to contain this chapter which presented the Messiah as a suffering servant who would be slain by His people, who would be ridiculed and killed.
Not Guilty of Murder
The point is that Jesus’ statements from the cross (“…Forgive them for they know not what they do…“) was making a statement that the people were not guilty of murder, that of knowing killing the Son of God, but that they had committed manslaughter – because they did not understand what they did.
Why the Angels Could Not be Forgiven
Now we know that there is no forgiveness to the Angels.
It is because they fully understood what they did by not trusting in God and therefore rebelling against Him.
They were in God’s very presence and could see Him, they interacted with God and saw His greatness; they saw God with their own eyes and yet still chose not to believe in Him – they those because of their disbelief to disobey.
This is why they are not given forgiveness through grace, they had knowledge – which would be the same as if we (As represented by the Jews) had knowledge – it would have been as if we crucified Christ knowing who He was – it would have been murder, not manslaughter.
The point is, that Jesus is man’s city of refuge – where man who has the blood of Christ on His hands because of His own sin, can go to Jesus “the City of Refuge” because what they did they did in ignorance.
This is but one of the ways that God teaches us about the Messiah – this is one of the object lessons for us to learn.
The Sanhedrin – The Representatives of Israel
The Sanhedrin definitely planned to have Jesus crucified; however, at the same time, God had planned this by His pre-determinant council (Acts 2:23 ~ “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”), yet did they do it in knowledge, did they mean to execute the Son of God
No, they did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, therefore the Law says, if a man claimed to be God, He committed blasphemy and deserved death.
You and I as well, what are we guilty of?
Did not Jesus go to that cross for you and for me, because of our sins?
Did you and I not drive those nails into His hands as pertaining to our sin (See Endnote #5, “)?
I certainly plead guilty to manslaughter, as I think we all must.
You and Me
As our precious, loving, and forgiving Lord, our High Priest, said at the cross (Luke 23:34),
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Then does Jesus words pertaining to us as well, are we as they, guilty of manslaughter, and if so; we can run to Jesus; our city of refuge, where we are secured from the Avenger of Blood as long as we are abiding in Jesus as our City of Refuge.
Jesus, our High Priest in whom we are completely secure, died at the cross for you and for me; therefore, the Avenger of Blood cannot touch us!
1. Expositional Constancy (Hebrews 8:5)
Expositional Constancy is the repetitive use of the same (uniform) idioms throughout Scripture, both in Hebrew and Greek; in symbolizing something in order to create an object lesson which enhances details in producing clarity. God’s use of typology, which is a symbol, sometimes referred to it as a model or example, or biblically speaking a “shadow”; is meant to generate greater detail and precision in identifying something or someone. (Heb. 8:5; 1 Corth. 10:11; Rom. 15:4; 1 Corth. 10:6)
Hebrews 3:1-6 – Illustrates that God created the role of the earthly priest as an object lesson to later help identify Jesus’ role as the intercessor and Redeemer of mankind.
Hebrews 8:4-5 – Describes how God caused the tabernacle to be fashioned specifically concerning its materials and construction in order to convey greater details in describing Jesus Christ as our substitutionary sacrifice, advocate, and the perpetuation to God in providing salvation to humanity. (Also see: 1 Corth. 10:4; Hebrews 4:11; Hebrews 10:1; & Colo. 2:17)
A substance, principle or reality may be more than one typological symbol or idiom used as a model or illustration which God wishes to communicate, yet there is never an inconsistency in using the same typological idiom representing something else, that would therefore create any confusion concerning the symbolic representation.
Preamble Concerning Biblical Illustrations Jude 1:9
Whenever a writer or speaker addresses his audience and utilizes illustrations or references, he always uses illustrations or references that the audience is aware of, because to do otherwise would be to assume a fallacy in his presentation; presuming that he would not clarify an obscurity to his immediate intended readers, in which he obviously meant for them to understand is illogical.
Unless, at some point he alludes to a further explanation concerning a reference or illustration in order to create relevance to the subject at hand. Or if he purposefully introduces a mystery or enigma with the intent of maintaining their obscurity; he makes this obvious, never displaying an assumption that his audience could understand what he has not explained.
Therefore, when reading Scripture, it should be understood that any of the Biblical writer’s references, illustrations, or applications; are presented with the assumption that the writer is aware that his audience holds complete understanding concerning his allusion.
Therefore, this means that what may appear upon face value to be an unusual illustration or reference to the current reader, must be considered to be common day to the writer’s direct audience when written.
Some examples are:
Michael fought with Satan over the body of Moses (Jude 1:9)
The existence of the Nephilim (Gen. 6:1-4)
Satan individually tests believers, only according to God’s permission (Job 1:6-12)
1st Biblical prophecy was by Enoch, concerned the 2nd coming of Christ (Jude 1:14-15)
Noah was a preacher (2 Peter 2:5)
Jesus words, “it is more blessed to give …” not recorded in Gospels (Acts 20:35)
Names of the 2 priests of Egypt which Moses encountered, according to Paul (2 Timothy 3:8)
The 3 years of drought of Elisha, was by his prayer, according to James (James 5:17)
Previously unknown about Abraham & Moses, by Stephen: Pharaoh not an Egyptian,
Moses was taught in the science of Egypt. (Acts 7:2-54; Acts 7:20-54; Acts 7:38-54)
Egypt – World
Pharaoh – Devil & his armies
Moses Deliverer – Christ
Red Sea – Baptism
Pillar: cloud, fire – Holy Spirit
Manna – Bread of Life (Lord’s Supper)
Water from Smitten Rock – Living Water
Those overthrown in the wilderness – not in Egypt, but short of Canaan.
Misconceptions of Exodus typology
Crossing over Jordan is not dying
Canaan, the promised land is not heaven (There is battles they are, victories & defeats)
Crossing into the promised land is the idea of entering what God desires for us, the victory of a life of faith (Heb. 3:1-19; 4:1-16; 1 Cor. 10:1-6)
Recognize that while it’s undesirable to wander in the wilderness, and desirable to cross over the Jordan into Canaan, it is not about dying, but about living in faith.
Application to the Church
Most of us make a 40 year wandering out of a 11 day journey.
Had Israel excepted God’s Word in faith they would have entered into the land as a nation 38 years earlier.
We need to appropriate all that God has for us according to faith in Him.
We can live in the wilderness of doubt, defeat, failure, or enter victory by faith.
(Thank you to Chuck Missler for much of the above.)
2. Jesus’ Claim of Deity as the Son of God
Jesus made many claims in regard to being Divine, the Son of God Incarnate; we will look at two of these passages.
There are many other issues which display His belief that He was divine, such as the titles He used for Himself which were titles used of deity, His claim of sinlessness, His posture of superiority to the Pharisees, who He refused to cow down to.
He orchestrates worship of Himself, such as a Triumphal Entry, and the healings wherein He receives worship, and the fact that He seated within Himself the power to forgive sins – who does that, except God?
First, Mark 14:60-62, which occurs at Jesus’ trial, when He was asked by the High Priests (Which according to the Torah, a suspect had to answer, therefore Jesus had to answer as a suspect. Jesus went through 6 trials [See Endnote # 3 ], 3 secular and 3 religious, and only twice did He give an answer, once in fulfillment of the Torah when the High Priest demanded an answer, and once when the secular judge Pilate, based upon Roman law demanded an answer), if He was the Messiah (the “Christ”), the Son of God.
The text states:
“And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (KJV)
The second passage we will address is probably one of the most dramatic dialogues Jesus held with the Pharisees wherein Jesus claimed Divinity as the Son of God; as recorded in John 8:12-47, which states:
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come. Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” (KJV)
Jesus also made seven “I AM,” statements, which the Jews understood to be an allusion that Jesus was using to indicate He was God, the one speaking from the “Burning Bush” as seen in Exodus 3:14, which states:
“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (KJV).
Jesus used this “I Am” statement many times, such as John 8:28:
“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he [“he” is not in the original text, it is added by the translators thinking it was needed], and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.”
And to make sure that He was referencing Exodus 3:14, Jesus said in John 8:58,
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
Jesus left no ambiguity in connecting Himself to the “I AM” statements, therein claiming Deity (The 7 “I AM” statement are recorded in: John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:7; John 10:11; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 15:1)
Please also see: John 10:25-33; John 5:17-18; John 5:23-24; John 8:12-47; Mark 2:5-7, John 14:1; John 14:6, John 14:8-11; John 20:28-29; John 5:39; Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44-46.
3. The Trials of Jesus in their Sequence
Jesus was put through six trials, three secular and three religious (Within the Bible, 6 is the number of man, Jesus as a man was Judged; though He was God)
Trial #1: Jesus was taken to Annas. (Mark 14:53; John 18:13-24) Annas was the original (former) High Priest, however, the Romans in order to reinforce their own the power, placed his son-in-law, Caiaphas, the current High Priest. And while Caiaphas, was the high priest of record, the Sanhedrin still look to Annas as the true high priest.
Trial #2: Jesus was taken before Caiaphas. (Matthew 26:57-68; John 18:24-28)
Trial #3: Jesus reviewed before the Sanhedrin. (Luke 22:66-71)
Trial #4: Jesus taken before Pilate. (Luke 23:1-6; John 18:29-38)
Trial #5: Jesus taken before Herod. (Luke 23:8-11)
Trial #6: Jesus taken back before Pilate. (Matt. 27:11-24; Mk. 15:1-14; Lk. 23:13-24; John. 18:39-19:16). Pilate offered either Barabbas or Jesus; the crowd choose Barabbas to be released, and Jesus condemned to death.
4. The Bible is about Jesus
God’s Word, the Bible is ALL about Jesus as recorded in the following Scripture:
Hebrews 10:7 ~
“Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.”
John 5:39 ~
“you search the Scriptures for and then you think you have life, it is these that speak of me.”
Matthew 5:18 ~
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
Luke 24:27 ~
“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Acts 8:35 ~
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture [Isaiah 53:7], and preached unto him Jesus.”
Acts 26:22-23 ~
“Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”
Acts 28:23 ~
“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.”
Romans 1:1-3 ~
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
Hebrews 1:1-3 ~
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
Matthew 24:35 ~
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
5. Who was Really Guilty of Crucifying Christ.
While pondering my Lords crucifixion I feel compelled,
compelled that someone should be held accountable.
I mean this was such an injustice.
He was innocent of any wrong doing.
His trials were illegal.
He was taken in the dark of the night.
Betrayed with a kiss by someone
claiming to be a friend.
Had that betrayer not have done so wickedly,
had he not allowed Satan to beguile him
into such deceitfulness;
He would have awoken as the
sun rose in Gethsemane –
the beginning of another glorious day.
Cursed be that traitor – Judas!
But then I thought, it was the Jewish religious
leaders who took Him, they had sought
His death all along, mostly out of envy,
they so feared that the people
would follow Him, and that they would
lose their precious positions.
It was their golden opportunity, and they seized the moment.
So, without question they are to blame, it’s therefore
no wonder their plight has been so grievous through
the years, certainly they had it coming –
an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.
Yes, surely it’s them deserving the blame,
cursed be the Jews!
Yet, when I think further of it, that was a
Roman cross, was it not?
Pilate, he was a Roman; he had the power to
just release Him – but did he?
No! He had Him beaten and flogged.
His beard was ripped from His face as a
Roman cat of nine opened His flesh.
Mockingly, Pilate’s soldiers placed a
thorny crown upon His head,
“Look at the King of the Jews” they taunted.
Oh, sure Pilate washed his hands in some
menial gesture, as if that cleared
him of any guilt.
Pilate had the power to free Him, after all he had
said himself; He was guilty of no crime.
Pilate is without excuse, he gave them Barabbas
in His stead, they crucified the innocent
and freed the guilty, cursed be the Romans!
Then as they laid Him upon that cross; and “whack”
drove those nails into the flesh of His wrists,
His Blood began to flow ever more deeply.
Then mercilessly again, “whack” into His legs
as He now became as One with the wood.
Without hesitation I’m sure they lifted and
dropped the wooden pillar of death into
a waiting hole – “Thud,” as it slammed
into the ground; ripping His flesh
even further from the impact.
There He was, the Creator of the Universe,
bleeding profusely, beaten beyond recognition
by the Romans; handed over by His own people,
betrayed by a friend, but do you know who He saw?
Me! All my sin, sin I had yet to commit,
though He knew I would – I was not yet even born.
Tears fall, He who sees the end from the beginning,
looked down the corridor of time; He saw my plight.
So very lost in my sin with no hope of
reconciliation, none apart from Him.
I know I wasn’t here yet – but I can hear it as it
comes from His lips, even now as I type, Him
whispering my name, Rocky it’s for you I died.
I’m the one that deserves to be cursed,
instead I’m blessed.
I deserve death,
yet He gives me life.
Is that fair?
No, far from it.
So you ask me,
why am I so big on grace?
Because I’m the one who’s guilty….
I killed Him
I killed Him by my sin!
(Written by Rockman, my best friend and Brother in the Lord; Brent)