Flee to the City of Refuge (Numbers 35)

Peter Barnes: Numbers 35

(22 December 2019)


– six cities of refuge plus another 42 made up the 48 cities for the Levites.

– Hebrews 6:17-18. As sinners, we flee to Christ for refuge.

1. Law must deal with intentions above consequences.

– 35:1-8. God makes a distinction between murder and manslaughter – 35:9-15. Israel had no police force, so if a person was killed, an avenger of blood would administer justice – 35:19.

– consequences may be similar, but the intentions are different – as this law recognises.

2. God provides both justice and mercy.

– the death penalty for premeditated murder, but not for accidents – Num.35:22-23; Deut.19:4-6. Evil had to be paid for, but justice can easily slip over into injustice – Num.35:30. In pursuing justice, God sets out laws that are designed to curb injustice.

3. Flee to the cities of refuge.

– note Hebrews 6:17-18.
(a) ‘Goel’ is translated as ‘avenger’ (‘of blood’) in Numbers 35:12, 19, 21, 24, 25, 27). In other parts of the Bible, it is translated as ‘redeemer’. For example, a redeemer could redeem a slave (Lev.25:48). Boaz redeems Ruth – Ruth 3:12; 4:1, 6, 8. Job says: ‘I know that my redeemer lives’ (Job 19:25). Christ is our judge, but also the redeemer.
(b) These cities had to be easily accessible. So is Christ.
(c) There was only one way to be saved – 35:26-27. As in Christ.
(d) The refugee could only be freed on the death of the anointed (‘christened’) high priest – 35:25. This is a picture of redemption.
(e) Blood pollutes and blood redeems – 35:33.