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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

February 26, 2024

Read to Read …Again


Daily Reading:  Numbers 35-36


Numbers 35:11

Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.


A seemingly innocuous mention about cities of refuge in today’s reading speaks volumes about Christ. Consider two prominent ways these cities picture our Lord and Saviour.


But first understand the city of refuge. There were six (vs. 13). In the Bible six represents the work of man on the earth. For example, man was made on the sixth day, there are six days we are to work, and six of the great ten commandments speak of our interactions and dealing with others. These special cities were a place of refuge for anyone who accidently, without forethought and absence of malice ends the life of another. If two are working in a field and one makes a mistake that results in death, that individual could flee to the nearest city of refuge wherein they would be safe from the “avenger of blood” (Joshua 20:3,5,9). If they left the city, they would be a prey to the avenger, they had to stay within the walls of that city.  Those who went to the city of refuge would be exiled from their home, but they would live. They would have to stay in that city until the death of the high priest that was serving at the time the accident occurred.


How does this picture the coming Christ? Two significant ways.


One, the High Priest is always a type of Christ. They, and they alone had privileges that others did not. They were the head of the religious life of Israel, just as Jesus is to be the head of every local church (Ephesians 5:23). This priest, and he alone offered the blood of the Passover lamb, yearly, as atonement for sins within the Holy of Holies. Christ offered His own precious blood to God in the throne room of Heaven once for all sin forever. This is why He told Mary not to touch Him, because He had not yet ascended to the Father during a post resurrection appearance to her (John 20:17 and I Peter 1:18-19). The high priest was uniquely able to discern God’s will through the miraculous and largely un-understandable Urim and Thummim; just as the Lord’s ways are mysterious and beyond finding out even as Job testified.


Two, the city of refuge itself is a type of Jesus Christ. He and he alone is the place to which sinners can run for refuge from the avenger. Because of sin every person has the sentence of death passed to them. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, His perfect life, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection is that place of refuge against the wages of sin as recorded in Romans 6:23; For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Now, get this, the fleer to the city of refuge was safe from the punishment of the avenger until the death of the High Priest. Jesus as our High Priest will never die! We are free forever. Exiled perhaps from the life we want because of the past deeds of our flesh (sin), but free from physical and eternal death. This is one reason why the Bible, so often, when speaking about the death of a Christian, says that they “sleep” (example: I Corinthians 15:51).


When reading about the city of refuge understand that Christ is our abiding place of refuge, now and forever. After all, Jesus Himself said it like this in John 11:26: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?


Dr. William T. Howe

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