the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
This word is of very plain and obvious signification; and it is blessed to see in the Scriptures of truth how sweetly accommodating all the persons of the GODHEAD are brought home to the believer's heart under the figurative language of refuge. Hence in allusion to God the Father, Moses was commissioned to tell the church this grand and all-supporting truthâ€”"The eternal God is thy refuge; and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy before thee, and shall say, Destroy them." (Deuteronomy 33:27) And the Lord Jesus Christ is the immediate refuge of his people, for he is said to be their hiding place and their covert from the storm and tempest. And how truly blessed is it to discover, that in his person, blood, and righteousness, as the glorious Head and Mediator of his redeemed, they are secretly and securely hid with Christ in God; so that neither law nor justice, sin nor Satan, death nor hell, the world nor the grave, can come to injure them. (Psalms 32:7; Isaiah 32:2) And no less so is God the eternal Spirit, in his own sovereign power and GODHEAD; for he by his gracious influences stamps the whole authority of redemption on the hearts of his people, gives them his earnest of the promised possession, and effectually seals their souls unto the day of redemption. (2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13)
Under this article of refuge, it will be proper to notice those cities of refuge, which the Lord appointed under the Old Testament dispensation, as a shelter for the manslayer who unintentionally killed another, and hated him not in times past. If the reader will consult the Scriptures which relate to those cities of refuge he will find a very ample account Numbers 35:9-34; Deuteronomy 19:1-13; Joshua 20:1-9 throughout. And when he hath read the several particulars there recorded, he will discover that those cities of refuge were wholly intended to screen the unintentional murderer. And so exact was the law to be regarded, that on the poor fugitive's arrival at the suburbs of either of those cities, the congregation was to proceed on the subject of enquiry; and if any malice pretense was found in the mind towards the person he had murdered, the law enjoined that he should be taken even from the altar, and put to death.
And this security, even to the unintentional murderer, continued only while he remained in the city of refuge; for if he was found without the suburbs, the avenger of blood might by law kill him.
We are informed that the Israelites were so much interested in following up the divine commands concerning those cities of refuge, that the magistrates once in every year made a point to examine the roads leading to those cities from every direction, and to have them put in perfect repair, that no obstruction might be found to stop the fugitive in his flight from the avenger of blood pursuing him. And it is said, that at every opening there was placed a direction-post with the word Miklat upon it, (meaning refuge) as if to say, this is the way to the city of refuge. A beautiful type of the ministers of our God, who are supposed to be always as watchmen upon the walls of Zion crying aloud to sinners, murderers of their own souls, "to flee unto Christ as a refuge to lay hold of, and as an anchor to the soul both sure and stedfast within the vail." (Hebrews 6:18-19)
There was somewhat very significant in the names of those cities, and it is not fanciful to remark their allusion to the purpose for which they were appointed. They are called Kedesh, Shechem, Kirjotharba, or Hebron. These were on this side Jordan. And on the other side, by Jericho eastward, there was Bezer in the wilderness of Ramoth in Gilead, and Golan in Bashan.
If, as we cannot but conclude from all the other parts of Scripture, that as every thing under the law typified the Lord Jesus Christ, so these cities of refuge had an eye to him, as the only shelter for soul-murderers, then we shall find somewhat remarkable in the names of those cities. Kedesh which signifies holy, was a beautiful memorandum of him concerning whom the Holy Ghost saith, by the apostle, Hebrews 7:26 "Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. Shechem is the Hebrew for shoulder, or of one consent." And it is so translated in the margin of the Bible in Zephaniah 3:9 which see. And it is no violence to the expression to make application of this word to him whose government was declared to be upon his shoulder, Isaiah 9:6 line of the old writers, Raphelius, makes a very striking observation concerning this expression of the government being said to be upon Christ's shoulder; because said he we carry burdens on our shoulders, therefore Christ is said to carry his. And this he did when he became the Almighty burden-bearer of the sins of his people. The third name of those cities of refuge, Kirjath-arba, which is Hebron. (Kirjath-arba means the city of four, from Arba, four) Hebron signifies unity, fellowship, concord, or the like. And when sinners are brought into an union with Jesus, they are said to "have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3)
And the names of the three cities on the other side of Jordan were not less striking in allusion to Christ. Bezer or Bazar was used for a market place among the Eastern nations in after-ages; and Betzer meant an inclosure: so that in either sense the word is striking. As the man-slayer found in this city of refuge a blessed exchange, and a safe inclosure, both under one, so soul-murderers, when taking shelter in Christ, barter their sins for his righteousness, and find peace and safety in the blood of his cross. So Ramoth and Golan both read with an eye to Jesus, as they express exaltation and joy, may be supposed to imply the raising up of the depressed spirits of a sinner when fleeing to Christ for refuge, and finding him all he stands in need of, as well as that "joy and peace in belie ving, when abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost."
It is very blessed in reading the Old Testament Scripture, to discover in every part of it so much of the New. And when we are enabled, by the sweet teaching of the Holy Ghost, to discern Christ thus preached to our fathers in type and figure, what an infinite importance do such views tend to convey, when we find both in law and prophets every minute circumstance pointing to him who is "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
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Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Refuge'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​pmd/​r/refuge.html. London. 1828.