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This Chapter may be properly considered as a continuation of the former. As the sons of Levi had no portion with their brethren, because the LORD was their portion; in this Chapter we have the part which the LORD assigned in Canaan for the possession of his priests. Forty-eight cities, with their suburbs, are marked out for them. Beside these, six cities are appointed as cities of refuge for the manslayer, which this Chapter takes notice of; and other laws for regulation concerning murder, to which those cities of refuge were not to reach.
Observe, those memorable plains of Moab were sanctified to this blessed purpose, that here the final instructions concerning Canaan were given.
Observe the care of GOD over his ministry. Here, as in the gospel state, the LORD hath provided that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:14 .
Observe the cities of refuge were in the priests' lot. Was not this altogether typical of JESUS, who is the only refuge from the storm of divine wrath, and the only covert from the tempest of his just judgment? Isaiah 32:2 .
Though the LORD made so plentiful a provision for his priests, yet it should be observed, and carefully observed too, that the LORD set bounds to it. Ministers were never intended to lord it over GOD'S heritage, or to abound in carnal things, while supposed to be principally engaged in spiritual. See Paul's beautiful example on this point, Acts 20:33-35 ; Philippians 4:11-13 .
As one and the same subject is continued through these verses, I have not interrupted the Reader in its perusal, until he hath arrived at the close of it, in the end of the chapter. But it will be now proper to make a pause, and to take a serious and leisurely survey of the whole. And first, how sweet and refreshing is it to behold in those cities of refuge, the lively type of our Almighty Refuge, the LORD JESUS CHRIST. What murder have not you and I committed against our own souls, by sin; against GOD'S laws, against JESUS himself by crucifying him again and again, and putting him to an open shame! If death, judgment, and the law, which act as the avenger of blood, had overtaken us before we gained JESUS, the city of refuge, where would have been our remedy? Precious JESUS! in thee, and thy righteousness, we find a city of refuge, and are fully and everlastingly delivered from the avenger.
Blessed be that HOLY SPIRIT, the Teacher of my soul, from whose influence I am enabled to look beyond the Levitical dispensation, in those cities of refuge, and behold in them the evident emblems of him, and his complete security, who shelters all that flee to him from the avenger of poor guilty sinners. Oh! thou dear Redeemer, may I be led by thy SPIRIT's ministry continually to thee, and not stop short of the security thou hast afforded, in thy opened wounds, for the salvation of my soul. Neither shall I be in the danger which the people under the Levitical dispensation were exposed to, by the death of the High Priest; for thou blessed JESUS ever livest, and the efficacy of thy atonement is always the same.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 35". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28