Read Joshua 20:1-6
(Also Deuteronomy 19:1-13 and Numbers 35:9-34)
As part of the division of the promised land, Joshua fulfilled the commandments that God had given to Moses concerning an institution that needs some explaining: cities of refuge. You can read about cities of refuge in Deuteronomy 19 and Numbers 35. The basic idea is that if someone committed what we would call involuntary manslaughter (killing someone without intending to), the eye-for-an-eye retribution that was sure to follow could be prevented. The killer was to run to one of six designated cities of refuge to escape a retaliatory killing by a relative (called a blood avenger).
The cities of refuge fell under the jurisdiction of the Levites, the priestly tribe who had no land of their own. They were the mediators between God and the people and so were spread through the land. The guilty party who ran to the city of refuge was given a fair hearing and if judged to be innocent of murder was given shelter from vengeance as long as they remained within the walls of the city of refuge. They were eventually granted amnesty when the chief priest died.
In light of this amazing institution, read the words of the writer of Hebrews who refers to those who, “have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:18)
After reading the descriptions of the cities of refuge listed, what parallels and contrasts do you find between these designated cities of refuge and a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?