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Our ever adored Redeemer told the Pharisees in the days of his flesh, that on the two great commandments, of the love of GOD and the love of our neighbor, hung all the laws and the prophets; and accordingly, Moses having in the foregoing chapters largely pointed out the first of these, proceeds now, in this chapter, to enforce the duties of the second table of the commandments.
This is a very sweet chapter if read under the HOLY GHOST's teaching, and spiritually considered as leading to JESUS. And I take occasion here again in the opening of it to remind the reader once more, that it was of JESUS Moses wrote. If the reader will consult Exodus 21:13 . he will there find, GOD'S gracious promise concerning his merciful provision for sins of inadvertency in unintentional murder. And if he will then refer to Deuteronomy 4:41-42 . he will observe this promise fulfilled. I beg the Reader to consult the Commentary on the passages. But when the Reader hath made his observation on these passages, I would call upon him to remark, that the provision here made for the like occasions hath a reference to the state of Israel, after that Israel should become settled in Canaan. Yes! in Canaan as well as in the wilderness, it is JESUS alone who is the city of refuge to his people. Reader! do you not know that even in heaven itself JESUS will be the everlasting covering of his people, their house, their habitation, their joy, their all in all to all eternity! Sweetly and securely from their union with his person, their interest in his righteousness, and their acceptance in his blood, are their souls brought into the everlasting city of refuge, and guarded from every trouble and from every possibility of evil.
It is said that the Jewish magistrates were very particular respecting the observance of this law, and that once in a year a day was set apart to examine whether the ways which led to the cities of refuge were in good repair, and free from all obstructions; and that the poor fugitive which was fleeing from the avenger, might not be at a loss to know the path, a post of direction was placed at the corner of the road leading to those cities, with the word Miklat, that is refuge, engraven in great letters upon it. Whether this be literally true I presume not to say; but one thing I know, ministers of the gospel ought to be very diligent to see, not only one day in a year, but every day and all the day, that no stumbling block be placed in the way of a poor sinner, who is fleeing to JESUS for his life. Oh, thou dear Redeemer! how gracious is it that our coasts are so divided in our land, that every way there is an opening to thee in thy blood and righteousness! Blessed be the LORD! his word is nigh unto us, and his invitation forever sounding in our ears. Oh!, for grace to flee unto thee, thou LAMB of GOD which takest away the sin of thy people. Romans 10:8 ; John 1:29 .
It is beautiful to remark the rich provision of gospel mercies, not only for sins of notorious perverseness, but of ignorance. Alas! who can tell how oft he offendeth! But in JESUS; whom those cities of refuge represented, there is alone security for all. 1 John 1:7 .
It is worthy remark, that this precept of forming three cities more, in case of the enlargement of Israel's borders, was never fulfilled as it respected Israel only. But, had it not an eye to the enlargement of the church, when both Jew and Gentile were brought into one? See Isaiah 54:2-3 . And in this sense was not the precept intended to show, that the cities of refuge were as many to the Gentiles as to the Jews, and all typically referred to one and the same blessed object? Colossians 1:20 .
To explain those verses upon gospel principles, we must have recourse to what was originally said concerning murder: Genesis 9:6 . There should seem from hence, to be an open and daring attack upon the majesty of GOD himself in every instance of premeditated murder. Blood must therefore answer for blood. But this extends only to the punishment of the present state. In relation to the privileges of salvation by JESUS, we know that there is redemption in his blood for all manner of sin; and even some among the crucifiers of the LORD JESUS, were called by the apostle to the participation of this rich mercy on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:38-39; Acts 2:38-39 .
This precept is again repeated and a curse annexed to it: Deuteronomy 27:17 .
The wisdom of those laws is too obvious to need a comment; they have been already noticed: Numbers 35:30 . But what a sweet thought is it to the believer's experience, that in divine things there are the Holy Three which bear record in heaven, and there is the evidence of three which carry a corresponding testimony to his heart; namely, the HOLY GHOST as the first great witness in the spirits of his people; his sacred word as the second; and the believer's heart as the third, in which the evidence is given; and all these three agree in one, in their united testimony to the truth as it is in JESUS. 2 Corinthians 13:1 .
Was not the suretyship of JESUS pointed out in this law? Did not JESUS when redeeming his people, give an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth? Was not this literally indeed the case, when he who knew no sin became sin for us, and was made a curse for us that we might be made the righteousness of GOD in him?
HERE let me gaze on thee again and again, thou dearest JESUS, who art indeed the only City of refuge for all thy people, and who art placed in every avenue and way by which a poor slayer of himself and of his own soul by sin, may find shelter from the avenger. And while I look on thee as my sure hiding place from all the anger of my FATHER's broken law, and from all the accusations of my own guilty conscience, and from all the malice of Satan; Oh! may the HOLY GHOST give speed to my flight and earnestness to my desires, that before the avenger of blood can reach me, I may have taken shelter in thy person and righteousness. Oh! thou blessed Refuge of poor sinners, how fitly art thou prepared, how completely suited to all the wants of thy people! My soul even now, seems to feel an holy triumph in the security it finds by faith in thee! No plague shall come nigh my dwelling. In thee I feel a growing confidence of my everlasting security. Cease then your pursuits, ye ministers of evil, for my LORD hath shut me in like Noah in the ark, and housed me from your malice; and I am persuaded through his grace keeping me, that neither life nor death, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall separate me from the love of GOD, which is in CHRIST JESUS our LORD.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 19". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany