TODAY’S READING: NUMBERS 33-36

OVERVIEW:

A summary of Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness; the dividing of the land of Canaan; the inheritance of the Levites; the cities of refuge; the laws concerning female inheritance within the patriarchal tribe.

HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:

In chapter 33, God provides us with a summary of Israel’s journeys from Egypt to the Jordan. Note God’s stern warning in 33:55 “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.” In the New Testament equivalent, God is picturing the fact that living in the fullness of victory, He has designed in Christ (i.e. Canaan), is dependent upon us overcoming “every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1). Any area of our flesh that we refuse to deal with will become pricks in our eyes, and thorns in our sides, and shall vex us in our walk with Christ.

In chapter 34, God caused the children of Israel to look ahead to the time when they would possess Canaan, as He assigned to each tribe the portion of their inheritance in the land. The Levites were also assigned their special cities; and most of all, the cities of refuge are defined in chapter 35. We will talk further about the cities of refuge as we move into the Book of Joshua, but do note some beautiful pictures of Christ, to Whom we “have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:18).

Note some of the beautiful pictures of Christ seen in these cities:

1) THEY WERE APPOINTED BY GOD, NOT MOSES.

Moses did not choose these cities, picturing the fact that the

Law (Moses) cannot save anyone. Just as these cities were

appointed by God, as an act of His grace, to be shelter or

refuge from judgment, so Christ, as an act of God’s grace (John

3:16), was appointed by God to be our shelter of refuge from

the judgment of sin (John 1:29).

2) THEY WERE ANNOUNCED BY GOD IN HIS WORD.

The six cities are specifically named in Joshua 20:7-8, and

could never be changed. There were other cities that were

larger and more prominent, but none of them could shelter the

sinner. God has also specifically named Christ as the one and

only shelter from sin, though many of the world’s religions are

larger or more prominent. God’s Refuge, Christ will never

change, based on the authority of His Word (John 4:6; Acts

4:12).

3) THEY WERE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL MEN.

The six cities were arranged by God so that no tribe was very

far away from the place of safety. They were all very

accessible. We are told by the rabbis that there were

signposts that pointed the way to the cities of refuge, and

that the gates of these cities were never shut. God has made

Christ accessible to all men, even children (Matt. 18:3). The

Holy Spirit is given to point men to Christ (John 16:13-14),

and all who come, will find His gates open wide (John 6:37)!

4) THE GUILTY HAD TO APPROPRIATE GOD’S PROVISION TO ESCAPE

PUNISHMENT.

It wasn’t enough to know that the cities of refuge existed, or

even to believe that they could provide refuge from judgment.

The guilty had to actually enter in to the city. So, it is not

enough that a sinner believe that Christ, as God, existed, or

even that they believe that He is God’s Refuge from the

judgment of sin; He must be “IN CHRIST” (II Cor. 5:17).

CHRIST IS REVEALED:

In the PROMISED LAND Num. 33:50-54 (Note that the Promised Land was filled with abundance and protection for those who took God at His Word) John 10:10 Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

In the CITIES OF REFUGE Num. 35 (Heb. 6:18-20 Christ is our Refuge from the judgment of God and the curse of the Law.)

In the INHERITANCE of the children of Israel Num. 36:7 (Eph. 1:10-11)