Cities of Refuge (Again): Deuteronomy 17-26

Last week, I wrote a post about the concept of Cities of Refuge as it was described in the book of Numbers.  And now the concept has come up again in Deuteronomy 19.

When God repeats ideas in the Bible, they are important.

As I read the passage today, I thought, “This must be what heaven is all about.”  Heaven will not be filled with people who were perfect when they lived out their human lives on Earth.

Heaven will be filled with forgiven sinners.

We all need a city of refuge. We are all sinners.  Most of us did not set out to do wrong. Even when we choose to disobey the law of God, we rarely started out wanting to do so. We make small, bad decisions that eventually lead us to bigger, even worse decisions that eventually lead us to some of the worst decisions out there.

And when we just cannot see our way out of the dust of bad, God – through Jesus – shines a light on our sin, exposes us for our sinfulness, and then reaches out a hand that offers forgiveness and refuge from doing wrong again.

Sometimes we walk into the light and grab on to God’s hand.  Other times, we turn away from Him – thinking that we do not need His forgiveness or that we do not deserve it (which we do not…).

What we choose does not define our level of need.  We often know that we need Him and His forgiveness but cannot fathom how we can change, why we should, and if He really will forgive us.

I need a city of refuge.

I need to be surrounded by others who will remind me that God loves me, that He sent His son to die for me, and that He forgives me even though I do not deserve the forgiveness.  I need those people to see me in a different light even though they know why I need that city of refuge.

Have you ever told someone about a past sin – expecting that person to reject you – and then have that person tell you that God loves you?

And has that person’s eyes and face proven to you that he or she sees you in the forgiven state that you are now in because of what Christ did for you?

I have.  It is amazing.

And when that person saw me the next time, she did not act differently toward me.  And when she knew that I was struggling with forgiving myself, she encouraged me.  She was a city of refuge for me.

Who do you know today that needs you to be a city of refuge?  How can you do that?  What changes might need to occur in your heart for that to happen?

May God tug at all of our hearts so that we can have open hearts, open minds, and open arms for all who need to see us – the Church – as a city of refuge.