Rev. John Shank, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Edwardsville, Illinois, joins host Rev. AJ Espinosa to study Joshua 20.
God speaks, and more promises are fulfilled as Joshua 20 begins the final section of the book. The inheritance has been divided up—but will it remain holy, or will it fall into pollution?
God uses the cities of refuge to restrain humanity’s thirst for violence and vengeance. These Levitical cities would ensure that cases of manslaughter were given a fair and unbiased trial. These cities showed God’s mercy and orderliness, embodied in our pastors and elders today. But even if an accidental killing didn’t qualify as murder, punishment was still necessary, and these cities served as places of exile. Innocent blood had to be atoned for, and that only happened with the blood of the high priest, foreshadowing our Lord Jesus, whose blood sets us free from exile.
Thy Strong Word is a daily in-depth study of the books of the Bible with host Rev. AJ Espinosa and guest pastors from across the country. Thy Strong Word is graciously underwritten by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation and produced by the LCMS Office of National Mission.
The Cities of Refuge
20 Then the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Say to the people of Israel, ‘Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, 3 that the manslayer who strikes any person without intent or unknowingly may flee there. They shall be for you a refuge from the avenger of blood. 4 He shall flee to one of these cities and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and explain his case to the elders of that city. Then they shall take him into the city and give him a place, and he shall remain with them. 5 And if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not give up the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unknowingly, and did not hate him in the past. 6 And he shall remain in that city until he has stood before the congregation for judgment, until the death of him who is high priest at the time. Then the manslayer may return to his own town and his own home, to the town from which he fled.’”
7 So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. 8 And beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they appointed Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland, from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead, from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan, from the tribe of Manasseh. 9 These were the cities designated for all the people of Israel and for the stranger sojourning among them, that anyone who killed a person without intent could flee there, so that he might not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, till he stood before the congregation.