Numbers 35

* The cities of the Levites. (1-8) The cities of refuge, The

laws about murder. (9-34)

1-8 The cities of the priests and Levites were not only to

accommodate them, but to place them, as religious teachers, in

several parts of the land. For though the typical service of the

tabernacle or temple was only in one place, the preaching of the

word of God, and prayer and praise, were not thus confined.

These cities were to be given out of each tribe. Each thus made

a grateful acknowledgement to God. Each tribe had the benefit of

the Levites dwelling amongst them, to teach them the knowledge

of the Lord; thus no parts of the country were left to sit in

darkness. The gospel provides that he who is taught in the word,

should communicate to him that teaches, in all good things, #Ga

6:6|. We are to free God's ministers from distracting cares, and

to leave them at leisure for the duties of their station; so

that they may be wholly employed therein, and avail themselves

of every opportunity, by acts of kindness, to gain the good-will

of the people, and to draw their attention.
9-34 To show plainly the abhorrence of murder, and to provide

the more effectually for the punishment of the murderer, the

nearest relation of the deceased, under the title of avenger of

blood, (or the redeemer of blood,) in notorious cases, might

pursue, and execute vengeance. A distinction is made, not

between sudden anger and malice aforethought, both which are the

crime of murder; but between intentionally striking a man with

any weapon likely to cause death, and an unintentional blow. In

the latter case alone, the city of refuge afforded protection.

Murder in all its forms, and under all disguises, pollutes a

land. Alas! that so many murders, under the name of duels,

prize-fights, &c. should pass unpunished. There were six cities

of refuge; one or other might be reached in less than a day's

journey from any part of the land. To these, man-slayers might

flee for refuge, and be safe, till they had a fair trial. If

acquitted from the charge, they were protected from the avenger

of blood; yet they must continue within the bounds of the city

till the death of the high priest. Thus we are reminded that the

death of the great High Priest is the only means whereby sins

are pardoned, and sinners set at liberty. These cities are

plainly alluded to, both in the Old and New Testament, we cannot

doubt the typical character of their appointment. Turn ye to the

strong hold, ye prisoners of hope, saith the voice of mercy,

#Zec 9:12|, alluding to the city of refuge. St. Paul describes

the strong consolation of fleeing for refuge to the hope set

before us, in a passage always applied to the gracious

appointment of the cities of refuge, #Heb 6:18|. The rich

mercies of salvation, through Christ, prefigured by these

cities, demand our regard. 1. Did the ancient city rear its

towers of safety on high? See Christ raised up on the cross; and

is he not exalted at the right hand of his Father, to be a

Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins?

2. Does not the highway of salvation, resemble the smooth and

plain path to the city of refuge? Survey the path that leads to

the Redeemer. Is there any stumbling-block to be found therein,

except that which an evil heart of unbelief supplies for its own

fall? 3. Waymarks were set up pointing to the city. And is it

not the office of the ministers of the gospel to direct sinners

to Him? 4. The gate of the city stood open night and day. Has

not Christ declared, Him that cometh unto me I will in nowise

cast out? 5. The city of refuge afforded support to every one

who entered its walls. Those who have reached the refuge, may

live by faith on Him whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood

is drink indeed. 6. The city was a refuge for all. In the gospel

there is no respect of persons. That soul lives not which

deserves not Divine wrath; that soul lives not which may not in

simple faith hope for salvation and life eternal, through the

Son of God.
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