STAY TRUE TO GOD
Jerry A Collins
v What do cities of refuge tell us about how God views life?
v Why are boundary markers important for justice?
v What does more than one witness safeguard?
For some reason, I had a handful
of guys who wanted to take out their aggression upon me. Jim Braden was a
neighbor who would get off of my busstop even though
it was several stops before his own just so he could chase me down the street
and beat up on me if he could catch me. Gary Moore was another guy who would
run out of his house and get on his bike and chase me up the road just to
harass me whenever I rode by his house. One time I made it up the road until I
got to Mrs. Campeau’s house, ran up to her porch,
knocked frantically on the door and asked to come in because
1. LIFE MUST BE SAFEGUARDED AGAINST REVENGE AND RETALIATION 1-13
This is illustrated for the nation by the cities of refuge God authorized throughout the land.
Safeguards 1-3 Moses already set aside three cities of refuge in
No revenge or retaliation 4-7 First, these cities were ‘set aside’ v 2 to prevent any further outrage from arising from a tragic situation like manslaughter or unintentional killing v4—this is repeated in v4 and 6. There has been no malice—hating him previously—it was an accident. The whole point was that the manslayer could flee and his life be spared from revenge or retaliation v4 and 5. This is repeated ‘may flee there and live’ and ‘he may flee to one of these cities and live’. His life is spared from the rage and anger of an avenger v6. An example of an unintentional killing is a mundane v5 as one’s ax-head flying off the handle hitting and killing a neighbor. Second, we know from Num 35:25-27, that the manslayer would have to stay in the city of refuge until the death of the current High Priest. During his stay, the Elders of the city were obligated to protect him from the avenger of blood Num 25:35. However, if the one guilty of manslaughter ventured out of the city beforehand the avenger could kill him ‘without being guilty of murder’ Num 35:27. Third, the ‘avenger of blood’ v 6 was the nearest relative of the one who was killed. The word is for a ‘family protector’ who was avenging the death of a relative Num 35:19-28. This avenger could become a murderer if in his anger and rage he pursued and overtook the manslayer on his way to the city of refuge v6.
Preventing murder 8-10 God was willing to make provision for three
more cities of refuge once the land of Promise increased to it’s full borders
v8 cp to v1, as Israel fully complied with God’s will for them v9. The whole
law is in view here but emphasized with the fundamental requirement of the
law—to love the Lord your God and walk in His ways always! So much of what God
2. DONT JEAPARDIZE LIFE BY PROVOKING SOMEONE IN A CONFLICT 14
Moving a neighbor’s boundary marker was the equivalent of stealing from them. The classic example of this is when Ahab and Jezebel moved Nabal’s boundary. Nabal claimed it was his own family’s ancestral plot. Here the owner of the land was exterminated. Job 24:2 refers to ‘some remove the landmarks’ indicating this problem in the land. Hosea 5:10; Prov ; ; Dt 27:17 all refer to this problem of moving boundary markers and stealing land. Since all property belongs to God and God has placed it where He has chosen to place it, don’t steal it. Don’t move the boundaries and also provoke your neighbor jeopardizing your relationships and life because of this conflict. Apparently this was a big issue. Life has been needlessly lost because of unresolved conflicts. Don’t put yourself in that kind of situation.
3. JUSTICE MUST BE PURSUED IN CONFLICTS 15-21
Inevitably there would be conflicts needing resolution justly. First, any legitimate conflict must be verified by more than one witness. There shall be two or three witnesses for inquiry into any crime v15. This is a safeguard against a false witness or another form of revenge or retaliation. Requiring more than one witness ensures better accuracy and objectivity in the deliberations. Second, if there is a case of only one witness v16-20, then judges were to investigate it thoroughly v18. If the accuser if proven false, a malicious witness v1 6 and a liar v18 he received the punishment he was looking for the accused. The point of all of this is true justice. A life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot. Third, this false witnesses punishment would serve as a deterrent against giving false testimony in the court. This violation of the ninth commandment was another evil that must be purged from the land v19. Justice not revenge must determine the outcome of resolving personal conflicts.1. Don’t make judgments about people because of what one person tells you. It could be gossip or legitimate concern. Either way, it requires a thorough investigation. 2. If accused person did what he did accidentally or as a mistake, without malice or hatred, with no previous record of conflict with that person. Then there should be no discipline action. 3. Justice and mercy also apply to the accused. If someone is accused of wrong doing, but it is not true, then the accused doing the accusing should be disciplined.