The Cities of Refuge

The cities of refuge were types of Christ: hence a divine person, even the Messiah, is often spoken of as the refuge of His people, (Psalm 9:9 Psalm 46:1-7 Psalm 62:7-8) with which compare (Hebrews 6:18) these were places to flee to, as the word is rendered by the Greek version; to Christ, sensible sinners flee for shelter and safety, which supposes danger in themselves from the law and justice of God; a sense of that danger which makes them flee from wrath to come; a view of Christ, as a place of refuge, and that no other but he will serve their purpose, and therefore make all the haste and speed they can unto him.

The word properly signifies cities of gathering, or of reception. There was a gathering of the elect of God to Christ at his death; and there is another at effectual calling, which is an act of God’s grace, and a distinguishing one, when souls gather to Christ as their Saviour for righteousness, peace, pardon, rest, and everlasting life; and when Christ receives them, though sinners, into his arms, and into his heart, and into open fellowship with him, so as to dwell in him, where they dwell pleasantly and safely; he receives them into his house here, and into heaven hereafter; and by, and in Christ, those that flee to him, and are received by him, are retained and preserved from Satan, law, hell and death.

The cities of refuge were of God’s appointing; so Christ, as a Saviour, and rock of refuge to his people, is appointed and foreordained of God; they were well known for refuges, as the Lord is in the places of Zion; they were open for all, at all times, as Christ is for all sinners, even the chief of sinners, Jews or Gentiles; they are all one in Christ, the Israelite, and the stranger and sojourner; all impediments were removed out of the way of them, and plain directions to them given, as are in the Gospel, and by the ministers of it; and there is always room in Christ for such that flee to him, as there was in those cities; and being in him, they are safe from the curse and condemnation of the law, from wrath to come, and from the second death; and their redemption and atonement, peace and reconciliation, liberty, life and salvation, are owing to the death of Christ, their high priest. The death of Christ, our high priest, atones for every sin of those that flee to him, and by which they are reconciled to God.


John Gill

One Comment on “The Cities of Refuge

  1. There were cities of refuge strategically placed on each side of the Jordan River whereby a manslayer might find haven until his case could be heard. A man finding himself to be guilty of the death of another (ignorantly or accidentally) had one hope of survival — he must get to the city of refuge.

    The highway which led to each city had to be prepared by the priest to assure unobstructed passage. Hills were to be made low, valleys were to be exalted, crooked ways made straight and rough places made plain to remove all hindrances of travel. At all crossroads a sign had to be posted pointing toward the city of refuge.

    Men by nature are guilty before God by birth (in Adam) and practice. The realization of that guilt (by the Holy Spirit) sets that man fleeing toward Christ (the City of Refuge). God-called preachers must proclaim the unobstructed way (Christ) toward the city of refuge Himself. Hills of pride, valleys of despair, and crossroads of ignorance are made plain only one way — the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. Guilty sinners must see that banner that cries Refuge, Refuge, this way to the City of Refuge.
    (Marvin Stalnaker)

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