Christ, Our City of Refuge.

Christ, Our City of Refuge.


The cities of refuge were part of the distribution of the Promised Land among the twelve tribes of Israel. Only one tribe, the Levites, was not given land to develop. Instead, they were to be the priests of the Lord and the overseers of the tabernacle and all its rites and furnishings. Only the Levites could carry and set up the tabernacle.


Numbers 2:5-13 (KJV)

[5]And those that do pitch next unto him shall be the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel the son of Zuar shall be captain of the children of Issachar.

[6]And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred.

[7]Then the tribe of Zebulun: and Eliab the son of Helon shall be captain of the children of Zebulun.

[8]And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.

[9]All that were numbered in the camp of Judah were an hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth.

[10]On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur.

[11]And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were forty and six thousand and five hundred.

[12]And those which pitch by him shall be the tribe of Simeon: and the captain of the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.

[13]And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.


As the Levites were to have no territorial domain allocated to them like the other tribes in the conquest of Canaan, they were to be distributed throughout the land in certain cities appropriated to their use. Part of their inheritance consisted of forty-eight cities spread throughout the land.


Numbers 35:6-7 (KJV)

[6]And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.

[7]So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs. Of these forty-eight cities, six were designated as cities of refuge. The cities were Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer,

Ramoth, and Golan


Joshua 20:7-8 (KJV)

[7]And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.

[8]And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh.


The Law of Moses stated that anyone who committed a murder was to be put to death.


Exodus 21:14 (KJV)

[14]But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die


But for unintentional deaths, God set aside these cities to which the murderer could flee for refuge.


Exodus 21:13 (KJV)

[13]And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.


He would be safe from the avenger—the family member charged with avenging the victim’s death until the case could go to trial.


Numbers 35:19 (KJV)

[19]The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.


The congregation would judge to find if the attacker acted unintentionally. If he did, he would return to the city of refuge and live there safely until the death of the high priest who was in office at the time of the trial, at which point he could return to his property. If the attacker left the city of refuge before the death of the high priest, however, the avenger would have the right to kill him.


Numbers 35:24-28 (KJV)

[24]Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:

[25]And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.

[26]But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled;

[27]And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood:

[28]Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.


The establishment of those privileged sanctuaries among the cities of the Levites is probably traceable to the idea that the Levites would be the most suitable and impartial judges, that their presence and counsels might calm or restrain the stormy passions of the blood avenger. By their consecration as priests, the Levites were mediators between the Israelites and God. As such, they would have been gifted to calmly mediate between the attacker and the victim’s family, ensuring that no further bloodshed would occur.


The cities of refuge are types of Christ, in whom sinners find a refuge from the destroyer of our souls. Sin demands death as it penalty upon man and utter destruction. However, a man in Christ is in a safe haven. He did this in salvation;


Matthew 1:21 (KJV)

[21]And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

He will save from the consequences of sin.


Romans 5:9-10

[9]Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

[10]For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.


Colossians 1:13-14 (KJV)

[13]Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

[14]In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

He rescued us to safety.


Ephesians 1:7 (KJV)

[7]In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;


1 Thessalonians 5:9 (KJV)

[9]For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,


1 Thessalonians 1:10 (KJV)

[10]And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

We are in Him. He rescued us from the wrath to come.


Psalms 62:7 (KJV)

[7]In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.


Psalms 71:7 (KJV)

[7]I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.


Psalms 46:11 (KJV)

[11]The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.


Psalms 91:9 (KJV)

[9]Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;


Isaiah 4:6 (KJV)

[6]And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.


Isaiah 28:15-16 (KJV)

[15]Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:

[16]Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.


This refuge is a city. We have come to that city today.


Hebrews 12:22-23

[22]But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, [23]To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,


Ephesians 2:17-19,22

[17]And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. [18]For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. [19]Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of


[22]In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.


Philippians 3:20

[20]For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:


Our conversation is in heaven. The word “conversation” in the Greek means “citizenship”.We run to Christ to escape the danger we are in — in Him, we escape from the curse and condemnation of the law, and from death (which is the penalty for sin). Only Christ provides refuge from these things, and it is to Him alone that we must run. Just as the cities were open to all who fled to them for safety, it is Christ who provides safety to all who come to Him for refuge from sin and its punishment.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2020.


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