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Joshua 21

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23

SCRIPTURE: Joshua 21

This chapter details the last and crowning act of the allocation of the land in Canaan.  The leaders of the tribe of Levi made their claim for towns and the surrounding pasture lands that Moses had promised them. (See Numbers 35:1-8)

Once the distribution had been completed, the Levites had been given 48 towns (cities) including six cities of refuge.  These cities were scattered throughout the new nation.  It has been estimated that no one in Israel lived more than 10 miles from one of the towns given to the Levites.  This meant that every Israelite had someone within easy walking distance who was supposed to be well versed in Scripture and could provide Biblical guidance for all the problems of life.

The distribution was done according to the three main branches or clans in the tribe of Levi.  These corresponded to Levi’s three sons: Kohath, Gershon, and Merari.

Once these allocations had been made, we get to verse 43.  The last three verses of this chapter are some most powerful words.  We read where God kept His Word and fulfilled His promises.

Where I grew up, there were some unwritten rules that most people lived by.  One of those was “a man is only as good as his word”.  What we meant by that is if a man lied to you, he was not a good man.  But if he kept his word, if you could trust his word, he was a good man.  And a man who would keep his word even in difficult circumstances was even a better man.

I still operate under that premise.  In fact, over the years, I have said this to a lot of people.  But the point of the last three verses of this chapter is not to lend credence to the rules we lived by when I was growing up.  The point of the last three verses of this chapter is to remind us that God is a good God.  And one of the things that makes Him a good God is He keeps His Word.

If you are familiar with the story of Israel, you know they were a difficult people.  They often let circumstances diminish their faith.  They were known to rebel.  They complained about everything.  At one point, some of them actually tried to replace Moses as their leader. 

When you think about the character of Israel, it would be understandable if we read here that God got fed up with the whole lot of them and didn’t give them the land that He promised.  But when God gives us a promise, the fulfillment of that promise is based upon His character not ours.  God will not, indeed cannot, go back on a promise.

That should give us great comfort and encouragement today.  We can trust God’s Word.  We can rely upon His promises.  We can count on God to do exactly what He said He would do.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Joshua 20

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22

SCRIPTURE: Joshua 20

This chapter presents some interesting information that a lot of Christ followers are not aware of.  If you knew about this provision for cities of refuge, good.  If you didn’t know about this provision for cities of refuge, don’t worry about it.  For some reason it is not talked about very often in the church today.

Interestingly enough, one of the first ordinances God gave Israel after He gave them the 10 Commandments was the ordinance about cities of refuge.  These cities were to provide asylum or safe haven for people who unintentionally killed someone else.  They are referred to as manslayers in many different translations.  The fact that these cities are discussed in four different books of the Bible indicate how important they were.

In the ancient cultures, revenge was widely practiced.  If someone was killed, that person’s nearest male relative took responsibility for vengeance.  This vengeance was a “life for a life”.  This was practiced regardless of the motivation or intention of the killing.

In the case of someone who killed accidently and unintentionally, he was supposed to go as quickly as possible to a city of refuge.  There he would present his preliminary case to the elders of that city.  They would decide if he could stay in the city of refuge until a full trial could be held.  If the result of the full trial was that person killed accidently and unintentionally, he could live in that city of refuge without fear of retribution or retaliation.  He was to live there until the man who was high priest when the killing took place died.  Upon the death of the high priest, the one who did the killing was free to go.  As unusual as this may sound, it may have actually provided for a statute of limitations.

As you look at this chapter, you will see there were six cities of refuge scattered around the country.  That would make it easier for one who accidentally and unintentionally killed to find a place of refuge until and if he was proven innocent of premeditated murder. 

This process may seem a bit unusual.  But it was one of the ways that God proved for the sanctity of life.  The life of the one who was killed was obviously important.  But the life of the one who accidently and unintentionally killed was important as well.  If God had not provided for these cities of refuge, additional lives would have been loss.

From a symbolic view, these cities pointed to Jesus.  There is one who is pursuing us with the intent of taking our lives.  This is Satan, the enemy of our souls.  There is only one place he can’t reach us.  That is in Jesus.  Jesus is the place of refuge for all Christ followers.  It is only in Christ that we can find protection from the one who pursues us to take our lives.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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