Joshua 20

Six Cities of Refuge

20 Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘[a]Designate the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you [b]through Moses, that the manslayer who [c]kills any person unintentionally, without premeditation, may flee there, and they shall become your refuge from the avenger of blood. He shall flee to one of these cities, and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and state his case in the hearing of the elders of that city; and they shall [d]take him into the city to them and give him a place, so that he may dwell among them. Now if the avenger of blood pursues him, then they shall not deliver the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor without premeditation and did not hate him beforehand. He shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the manslayer shall [e]return to his own city and to his own house, to the city from which he fled.’”

So they [f]set apart Kedesh in [g]Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. Beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they [h]designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plain from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan from the tribe of Manasseh. These were the appointed cities for all the sons of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them, that whoever [i]kills any person unintentionally may flee there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood until he stands before the congregation.

This passage reminds me of the mercy of God in the midst of an era dominated by rules and legalism. It would have been very simple for God to say, “you kill one of my prized creations (humankind), and you pay for it with your life.” Or perhaps it is His justice that shines out here, or both.

In either case, it is an example of how our own sense of justice is a mirror (though sometimes cracked and broken) of our Creator. Before man ever made a law to differentiate between accidental death and intentional, malicious murder, God made the law first.

He is the source of everything we think “just” and “true”. It should be an obvious sign to those that don’t believe, that we call on a higher sense of “fairness” in our dealings with each other. Merely suggest that you could offend an atheist without needing any justification, and such a person will be outraged. It’s not fair! But what is fairness, and what is justice without a source?

It’s mere human speculation, and one person’s opinion is no more valid than another’s. There is no scale in the whole universe that can be backed by logic without going back to a common source. Our whole system of thought is proof of God, and thus God himself rightly declares, “the fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no god’.”

For it is rare indeed that a man (or woman) truly believes there is no God, but rather that they wish there would be no God, so that one would not have to give an account for how one used the gift of life on this earth.

Don’t be that person, seek truly, and you will find that there IS a God who is just, yet merciful, holy, and yet loving beyond all measure.

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