Flee to The City of Refuge!
The cities of refuge were a provision under the Law of Moses that provided safe haven for the unintentional man-slayer. There were six major cities designated; although recorded history indicates that there were a total of 48 cities that served as cities of refuge. The map below displays their locations:
The first mention of the establishment of such places was recorded in Scripture in the Book of Exodus in chapter 21 and verse 13. From the New International Translation (NIV) of the Holy Bible we read beginning with verse 12:
12 “Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a “place” I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.”
That these “places” were to be cities, is clearly explained by Almighty God himself when he spoke to Joshua. Joshua 18:1-6 reads:
“The Lord also spake unto Joshua, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses: that the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver the slayer up into his hand; because he smote his neighbor unwittingly, and hated him not before time. And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.” (Josh. 20:1-6).” King James Version (KJV)
God Almighty had established laws or statues in order that the Israelites would maintain a righteous standing before Him. He gave Laws that governed how they were to respond to both deliberate murder and cases in which someone unintentionally caused the death of a fellow human being.
As we examine Scripture, we will look at the practical wisdom in the application of this provision of His justice system. This provision is a pattern of a more grand Heavenly provision that God has establish in order that we may escape bloodguilt in these all important “last days”. Today is the paramount time in human history in which to seek refuge as the fear inspiring Day of Jehovah approaches.
This provision was created with a specific circumstance in mind that would require a person to flee and seek asylum. Could the issue of unintentional manslaughter in a spiritual sense exist upon an individual or group of individuals today?
This article will highlight the parallels that should concern any Jehovah’s Witness who by ignorance and blindness have aided in teaching false and misleading doctrines. Though they have done this with no malice of forethought, a very similar situation still exist as it did with the unintentional man-slayer back in the days of Joshua. In order to escape Divine Judgement from God, they must seek the one and only City of Refuge available in these final days before Jehovah’s Day of accountability.
God’s Holy Avenger is in pursuit!!
“Clear the Way“
Since the city of refuge was the only safe haven for the unintentional manslayer, it was imperative that the roads to them be visible and unobstructed. The cities that served as these safe-havens would have been of no value if they were inaccessible or if their locations were unknown. Therefore, guidelines were created in order to ensure that the guilty party could indeed successfully reach them. According to Mishneh Torah, Laws Regarding Murder and the Preservation of Life 8:5, “The court is obligated to straighten the roads to the cities of refuge, to repair them and broaden them. They must remove all impediments and obstacles. . . . Bridges should be built (over all natural barriers) so as not to delay one who is fleeing to [the city of refuge]. The width of a road to a city of refuge should not be less than thirty-two cubits” (approximately 42 feet).
At each city served men who acted as a Court. The Court was to weigh the evidence in each case to determine whether or not it was a case of murder or manslaughter. It was also the Court’s responsibility to straighten the roads and broaden them where necessary. The Court of elders’ were obligated to post signs reading “Refuge, Refuge” along the way at all crossroads. However, it was the responsibility of the communities along the road to make sure there were no obstacles in the road that would be an impediment to travel. There are accounts that state that individual citizens would often shout out to the fleeing person, “City of refuge!” and point the way toward safe-haven as well.
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses were mentioned earlier in particular; all humans on Earth who seek to survive the coming Judgment need to get into the modern-day City of Refuge. Because of the sin of the first humans Adam and Eve, all their future children also came under condemnation to death from God as they did. Thus, all humanity after them fell into need of redemption.
The Messiah, Jesus Christ said of himself, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If YOU men had known me, YOU would have known my Father also; from this moment on YOU know him and have seen him.” John 14:6,7. (NWT) The only salvation held out before humankind is offered through Lord Jesus Christ. Only by accepting him and following his commands can we reach the safety of God’s Divine covering. He is the only mediator between God and humankind. He alone is the channel of God. His arrival on the earthly scene and his life was just as clearly marked as those ancient roads to refuge. And as Christ followers our teaching and preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom should be just as clear. We as Christians have a personal obligation before our Lord and our God to clear any obstructions that would prevent someone from reaching the refuge that Jehovah God has offered by means of His son Jesus Christ.
Sad to say that has not been the case anywhere in the world of organized religion. They have all failed, including Jehovah’s Witnesses. How have Jehovah’s Witnesses failed in this sense?It is by preaching and teaching a concoction that is a mixture of truth and lies in the name of Jehovah God. By doing so, they have not cleared the way but rather have obstructed it. By doing so, they have misdirected millions off the Way and led them away from the asylum that the true City of Refuge will provide. They have turned aside those who have come to them earnestly seeking God by misrepresenting Him and His name. They have also shut the ears of those of mankind they attempt to witness to because those people have enough Biblical understanding to know that much of what they teach is contrary to true Christian faith.
When the Watchtower teaches that its Governing Body is the exclusive source of Divine instruction they usurp Christ authority. They call the Watchtower Society; “God’s spirit directed organization”. Do you notice the complete omission of Jesus Christ in that statement? Reconsider Jesus’ words in John 14:6,7. They effectively stand at the “crossroads” and beckon would be seekers of refuge to take some course that is tangent to the correct course. Imagine unscrupulous people along the roads to the cities of refuge deliberately misguiding runners off the road! This is what the Watchtower and all false Christianity has done and is doing. How well Jesus’ word recorded in Matthew’s gospel applies to them. Matthew 23:13 states:
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (NIV)
The Messiah warned of the grave consequences to all who set stumbling blocks before his sheep. These are his words from Matthew 18:6:
6 “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” English Standard Version (ESV)
There were no doubt consequences as a result of suchlike behavior meted out to anyone who misled and impeded the passage of those fleeing on the roads to the cities of refuge. Perhaps these inferences drawn from Scripture will help you see that teaching false and misleading doctrine is no light matter in Jesus Christ eyes. Some have convinced themselves that it will all be okay and God will overlook the matter. They may think to themselves, “Surely the Lord will forgive us! After all look at all the good we have done in his name!”
But, cannot that same claim be made by all the so-called Christian denominations? Many are involved in charitable works and the like. And most of their followers have found some benefit by being associated with them. Remember that Satan is very artful at deceiving by obscuring wicked intent with a little dose of truth or good works. William Shakespeare put it well when he said, “The devil can cite scripture for his own purpose! An evil soul producing holy witness is like a villain with a smiling cheek.” [Merchant Of Venice]. Apparently, Shakespeare had more spiritual awareness on this subject than current adherents to the Watchtower Society.
Lord Jesus said such “fake” Christians would be present in the last days.
15 “Be on your guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wild wolves. 16 You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briers do not bear figs. 17 A healthy tree bears good fruit, but a poor tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a poor tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 And any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire. 20 So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do.
“I Never Knew You”
21 “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do. 22 When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God’s message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’ 23 Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!”
Good News Translation (GNT)
Soon the Son of Man will return and completely reveal and destroy these workers of lawlessness. We for our part, must be involved in the work of exposing these “stumbling blocks” and these “jagged rocks” as Jude calls them.
12 “These people are like jagged rocks just below the surface of the water waiting to snag you when they join your love feasts. They feast with you without reverence. They care only for themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; fruitless autumn trees, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom the darkness of the underworld is reserved forever.”
Common English Bible (CEB)
Christian imposters inspired by the Devil seek to shipwreck the faith of those seeking the mercy Jehovah God has extended to mankind; true refuge in Jesus Christ. He is the ‘Road’ and the ‘City’ of salvation. And now we will consider his other role.
The Avenger Of Almighty God—–Run for your life!
Colossians 1:16-18 tells us:
16 “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.…”
New English Translation (NET)
The verses cited above are so very, very true and are demonstrated by the lessons we glean from the ancient City of Refuge provision instituted at God’s command.
The following text from The Jewish Encyclopedia offers insight into the avenger of blood and who among the family served this role when needed: (Note: The name of the Divine One is shown accurately as the tetragrammaton was written-HWHY. For the purposes of languages that are read from left to right, such as English, the letters would appear as YHWH)
THE AVENGER OF BLOOD (Hebrew go’el)
1906 The Jewish Encyclopedia
(Hebrew “go’el”): The Hebrew name for the clansman, “next of kin,” upon whom devolved the duties: (1) of avenging, on the person of the murderer, the blood of a murdered kinsman—in this capacity the more specific term “go’el ha-dam” (blood-avenger) was generally used—and (2) of redeeming the property or the person of a relative that had fallen into debt.
Among Primitive Peoples
(1) Among primitive people of low political development—such as the ancient Greeks, Germans, and Slavs, some North American tribes, the modern Sicilians, Corsicans, and Arabs—the clan or family had to assume the right to protect itself. One of the most important clan duties then was plainly for the nearest of kin to hunt down and carry out the death-penalty on a person that had slain a member of the sept or family. That this idea of family retribution—which even today is by no means extinct in some comparatively civilized communities—was also current among the ancient Hebrews may be seen from Gen. xxvii. 45, where the existence of the custom is clearly taken for granted. It appears, furthermore, from Josh. vii. 24, and II Kings ix. 26, that, in the most primitive period, such a vendetta was extended to the entire family of the murderer, as is still the custom among the desert Bedouins. The Hebrew religious justification for the system of family blood-revenge was undoubtedly the firm belief that God, in order to insure the sacredness of human life, had Himself fixed the death penalty for murder (Gen. ix. 5 et seq.; Lev. xxiv. 17). In the earliest times blood-money was not accepted either for murder or for excusable homicide. Such a payment would have made the land “polluted by blood” (Num. xxxv. 31 et seq.). Unavenged blood “cried out” for vengeance to God (Gen. iv. 10; Isa. xxvi. 21; Ezek. xxiv. 7 et seq.; Job xvi. 18). The Avenger of Blood, then, was regarded as the representative, not only of the murdered man’s family, but of HWHY Himself, who was the highest avenger (Ps. ix. 13 [A. V. 12]).
The Family Executioner
In a case in which the verdict against the slayer was one of willful murder, the murderer incurred the blood-revenge without any restrictions. If he were already in a city of refuge, the elders of his own city were obliged to fetch him thence by force if necessary, and to deliver him formally to the Avenger of Blood, who thus became little more than a family executioner (Deut. xix. 11 et seq.).
Two very important restrictions should here be noticed: (a) Although the entire family or gens to which the murdered man belonged were theoretically entitled to demand the blood-revenge (II Sam. xiv. 7), still, in the practise of later times, only one member—for example, the next of kin, who was also legal heir—might assume the duty of carrying it out. According to the later Jewish tradition, when there was no heir, the court had the right to assume the position of the “go’el.” (b) The law expressly states that the blood-revenge was applicable only to the person of the guilty man and not to the members of his family as well (Deut. xxiv. 16; compare II Kings xiv. 6). This is a most significant advance on the primitive savage custom that involved two gentes in a ceaseless feud. Anent this advance, it is interesting to note that, in the time of the kings, the king himself, as the highest judicial authority, was entitled to control the course of the blood-revenge (II Sam. xiv. 8 et seq.).
Redeemer of His Kinsmen
(2) As indicated above, the term “go’el” had also a secondary meaning. From the idea of one carrying out the sentence of justice in the case of blood-shed, the word came to denote the kinsman whose duty it was to redeem the property and person of a relative who, having fallen into debt, was compelled to sell either his land or himself as a slave to satisfy his creditors (compare Lev. xxv. 25, 47-49). It would appear from Jer. xxxii. 8-12 that the “go’el” had the right to the refusal of such property before it was put up for public sale, and also the right to redeem it after it had been sold (see Ruth).
From the Book of Ruth (iv. 5) it would appear that the duty of the nearest of kin to marry the widow of his relative in case of the latter’s dying without issue was included in the obligations resting upon the “go’el”; but inasmuch as the term is not used in the passage in Deut. (xxv. 8-10) in which this institution is referred to—the obligation resting upon the brother to marry his deceased brother’s widow—the testimony of so late a production as Ruth cannot be pressed. The usage in the book may not be legally accurate.
From this idea of the human “go’el” as a redeemer of his kinsmen in their troubles, there are to be found many allusions to HWHY as the Divine Go’el, redeeming His people from their woes (compare Ex. vi. 6, xv. 13; Ps. lxxiv. 2), and of the people themselves becoming the “redeemed” ones of HWHY (Ps. cvii. 2; Isa. lxii. 12). The reference to God as the “go’el” and as the one who would “redeem” His people was applicable to the relationship between HWHY and Israel in the exilic period, when the people actually looked to their God to restore their land for them, as the impoverished individual looked to his kinsman to secure a restoration of his patrimony.
Hence, of thirty-three passages in which “go’el” (as a noun or verb) is applied to God, nineteen occur in the exilic (and post-exilic) sections of Isaiah—the preacher par excellence of “restoration”—for example, in xlviii. 20, xlix. 26, lii. 9, lxii. 12, etc. See Asylum; Cities of Refuge; Job; Murder.
A. H. Post, Studien zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Familienrechts, 1890, pp. 113-137;
W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, pp. 22 et seq., 38, 47, 52 et seq.;
idem, Religion of the Semites, 2d ed., pp. 32 et seq., 272 et seq., 420;
Nowack, Lehrbuch der Hebr. Archäologie, i., ch. ii., 1894;
Kohler, Zur Lehre von dèr Blutrache, 1885;
Bissell, The Law of Asylum in Israel, 1884;
Jastrow, Avenger, Kinsman, and Redeemer in the O. T., in The Independent, Aug. 27, 1896;
Benzinger, Hebräische Archäologie, p. 335.
end of comments
Jesus Christ as the Avenger of Blood
When the angel now known as the Devil and Satan rebelled against Almighty God and then proceeded to induce the first human couple into sinning against Jehovah God, he became a murderer. His actions were the result of no accident; they were intentional. Satan knew what Law God had given to Adam and Eve and what the result of disobedience would be. The question he posed to Eve is proof of that.
Scripture tells us in John 8:44:
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (KJV)
There was no refuge available to him any more than there was for the intentional man-slayer. Therefore, Jehovah God called upon the “next of kin” to perform the duties of the family executioner. Jesus is God’s only begotten son and the “firstborn of all creation”. So it is only fitting that he serve in this role. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the avenger of blood was in most cases the legal heir. This facet also applies aptly to Jesus Christ.
There are many Scriptures that portray God’s only begotten son as His appointed Avenger of Blood.
Below, we read from the Book of Revelation that the Great Justice, Jehovah God has judged what is described as the “great prostitute”, “Babylon the Great”, and “that woman Jezebel” for the spilling of the innocent blood of His servants.
“For his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
2 Kings 9:7
“And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel (see Revelation 2:20) the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord.”
“They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
21 And a strong angel lifted up a stone like a great millstone and hurled it into the sea, saying: “Thus with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again. 22 And the sound of singers who accompany themselves on the harp and of musicians and of flutist and of trumpeters will never be heard in you again, and no craftsman of any trade will ever be found in you again, and no sound of a millstone will ever be heard in you again, 23 and no light of a lamp will ever shine in you again, and no voice of a bridegroom and of a bride will ever be heard in you again; because your traveling merchants were the top-ranking men of the earth, for by your spiritistic practice all the nations were misled. 24 Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (NWT)
“For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.”
We see from the Scriptures above that Jehovah God has throughout human history called for an accounting from those shedding innocent blood and that prophecy reveals He will call for an accounting in these “last days”.
Redeemer of Mankind
The Apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the congregations in Ephesus, speak to Christ Jesus’ role as “Redeemer” of all humans.
6 “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”
King James Version (KJV)
Once again we see the pattern God set long ago.
Identifying the City of Refuge
There are many that believe that the modern-day City of Refuge is found in application to human religious organizations. Is that accurate? Well, if we ponder on the specific duties performed in the ancient cities of refuge, we will have to admit that this conclusion could not be correct.
The Court of elders in these cities sat in judgement. They deliberated over the evidence in each particular case to come to a decision as to an individual’s guilt or innocence. They presided over a matter concerning life and death. That authority rest in the Heavenly Supreme Court and a Heavenly Judge has been appointed to this responsibility. Note what 2 Corinthians 5:10 states very clearly:
10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (NIV)
Now, we should really be able to appreciate the words of the Apostle Paul at Colossians 1:16-18:
16 “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (NKJV)
It should be clear that Jesus Christ himself is the City of Refuge. He is the Way or Road to refuge and salvation. Lord Jesus is Almighty God’s next of kin, rightful heir, and so justly is the pursuing AAvenger of Blood.
Let us take up our responsibility before Jehovah God and His son Lord Christ Jesus as citizens of the Christian Nation. Let us clear the path from the obstacles that the Devil and his minions have set as stumbling block by preaching the pure Gospel of the good news. Let us shout a warning to all seeker of salvation and point them in the only direction that they can find any salvation; to only Savior and Lord Christ Jesus.
If we do not, they will be caught by the Avenger outside the City of Refuge in these Final Days and face eternal destruction.
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