Numbers 35* The cities of the Levites. (1-8) The cities of refuge, Thelaws about murder. (9-34)1-8 The cities of the priests and Levites were not only toaccommodate them, but to place them, as religious teachers, inseveral parts of the land. For though the typical service of thetabernacle or temple was only in one place, the preaching of theword of God, and prayer and praise, were not thus confined.These cities were to be given out of each tribe. Each thus madea grateful acknowledgement to God. Each tribe had the benefit ofthe Levites dwelling amongst them, to teach them the knowledgeof the Lord; thus no parts of the country were left to sit indarkness. The gospel provides that he who is taught in the word,should communicate to him that teaches, in all good things, #Ga6:6|. We are to free God's ministers from distracting cares, andto leave them at leisure for the duties of their station; sothat they may be wholly employed therein, and avail themselvesof every opportunity, by acts of kindness, to gain the good-willof the people, and to draw their attention. 9-34 To show plainly the abhorrence of murder, and to providethe more effectually for the punishment of the murderer, thenearest relation of the deceased, under the title of avenger ofblood, (or the redeemer of blood,) in notorious cases, mightpursue, and execute vengeance. A distinction is made, notbetween sudden anger and malice aforethought, both which are thecrime of murder; but between intentionally striking a man withany weapon likely to cause death, and an unintentional blow. Inthe latter case alone, the city of refuge afforded protection.Murder in all its forms, and under all disguises, pollutes aland. Alas! that so many murders, under the name of duels,prize-fights, &c. should pass unpunished. There were six citiesof refuge; one or other might be reached in less than a day'sjourney from any part of the land. To these, man-slayers mightflee for refuge, and be safe, till they had a fair trial. Ifacquitted from the charge, they were protected from the avengerof blood; yet they must continue within the bounds of the citytill the death of the high priest. Thus we are reminded that thedeath of the great High Priest is the only means whereby sinsare pardoned, and sinners set at liberty. These cities areplainly alluded to, both in the Old and New Testament, we cannotdoubt the typical character of their appointment. Turn ye to thestrong hold, ye prisoners of hope, saith the voice of mercy,#Zec 9:12|, alluding to the city of refuge. St. Paul describesthe strong consolation of fleeing for refuge to the hope setbefore us, in a passage always applied to the graciousappointment of the cities of refuge, #Heb 6:18|. The richmercies of salvation, through Christ, prefigured by thesecities, demand our regard. 1. Did the ancient city rear itstowers of safety on high? See Christ raised up on the cross; andis he not exalted at the right hand of his Father, to be aPrince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins?2. Does not the highway of salvation, resemble the smooth andplain path to the city of refuge? Survey the path that leads tothe Redeemer. Is there any stumbling-block to be found therein,except that which an evil heart of unbelief supplies for its ownfall? 3. Waymarks were set up pointing to the city. And is itnot the office of the ministers of the gospel to direct sinnersto Him? 4. The gate of the city stood open night and day. Hasnot Christ declared, Him that cometh unto me I will in nowisecast out? 5. The city of refuge afforded support to every onewho entered its walls. Those who have reached the refuge, maylive by faith on Him whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose bloodis drink indeed. 6. The city was a refuge for all. In the gospelthere is no respect of persons. That soul lives not whichdeserves not Divine wrath; that soul lives not which may not insimple faith hope for salvation and life eternal, through theSon of God.
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