“Designate six cities of refuge for yourselves, three on the east side of the Jordan River and three on the west in the land of Canaan. These cities are for the protection of Israelites, foreigners living among you, and traveling merchants. Anyone who accidentally kills someone may flee there for safety.” (Numbers 35:13-15)
Shortly before the Israelites crossed over into the Promised Land, God gave final instructions to Moses. Among these was the designation of six cities of refuge to protect innocent people form blood revenge. There are two points here that are of particular relevance to us today.
1. God is our Refuge
The definition of the word ‘refuge’ is, ‘a place or situation providing safety or shelter.’
Have you ever noticed, how many scriptures speak about God as a refuge?
“The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you”. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” (Psalms 46:1)
What a timely reminder for us! Now, perhaps more than ever in recent decades, the world needs a refuge, a safe place to retreat to from fear and anxiety in this current pandemic. I thank God that He has shown us that the place of refuge for us is Jesus Christ.
I’m reminded of the words of the beautiful hymn...
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
A few days ago, I began to feel fear creep upon me, as many of you will have experienced. I found it difficult to think straight, to concentrate, to get on with work. I knelt down and prayed and as I turned my eyes upon Jesus, a stillness and calm crept over me. Peace came into my heart and with it came a right perspective.
We who know Jesus, can run to him for refuge in these days and find a place of safety and shelter there.
2. Available for all
We see in this week’s scripture that the protection being offered was not just for the children of Israel; it was for it’s ‘foreigners’ and ‘travelling merchants’. In other words, a place of refuge is available to all. Doesn’t this speak to us so clearly of the deep love, care and compassion in the heart of God for His creation?
This is a message for your families, your friends, your colleagues (if you’re still working), your neighbours (over the balcony or fence). God is available to us all. All we need to do is ‘come’.
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Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.