Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fight the Good Fight of the Faith: Refuge!

In the last devotional post, I discussed some reflections on God's dividing up of the land of Canaan--the Promised Land--among the tribes, which is a section that we are going to skip almost completely (except for this one sermon). By ch. 12, God’s people have essentially taken the Promised Land. They have broken the backs of the enemy and destroyed all the strongholds, so the land is essentially theirs, but the individual tribes have to do the “cleanup work,” we could say, of killing or driving out the remaining Canaanites. That means, the land has to be divided between the tribes, which is what chapters 13-22 are all about. And, again, as I mentioned in this past Friday’s post, this is not just a list of territories but a demonstration of God’s redeeming nature. He knows that we are sinful people, prone to fight among ourselves, and inheritance and property is one thing over which even families can become quickly divided: “I want this land,” “I don’t have enough because my family is bigger,” etc., and God cuts through all that by dividing the land proportionally Himself. No one can argue with that.

Now, part of the dividing up of the land is the giving of certain cities to the Levites. The Levites were the tribe tasked with serving God in the Tabernacle, Temple, and for the whole nation, so they did not get a specific territory, for, as the Scripture says in several places, their inheritance was the LORD Himself. However, they did need a place in which to live, so God allots them 48 cities distributed throughout the Promised Land on both sides of the Jordan, which also shows us God’s redeeming nature: He is concerned about the pastoral care of His people. By distributing the Levites throughout the land, He makes sure they are near to all peoples in all the tribes for care like marriages, funerals, circumcisions, and any spiritual guidance the people might need.

Among the Levite cities, God creates a subcategory: cities of refuge. There were to be six of them--three on either side of the Jordan, one in the north, middle, and south (see the map of the Promised Land above). And, these cities are the subject of the chapter for today's sermon: Jos. 20. They were the only place of refuge for someone whose life was being sought--someone was trying to kill them, and they had no place to flee except the cities of refuge. And, while this is still part of the dividing up of the land, which I have mostly skipped, it is a very special part. These cities, in particular, point us to the gospel and the work of Jesus Christ.

If you want to hear more, you can listen to the sermon here or read the transcript here.

I pray that God will use it to magnify His glory in your heart and fortify you for the battles of this Christian life.

By His Grace,

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