Reserved for Refuge
(Joshua 18:28; 19:1-51; 20:1-9; 21:1-45)
City of Refuge
As Joshua and the clan leaders divided the land of Canaan (by lots) among the twelve tribes of Israel, they also set aside cities of refuge, as the Lord instructed them to do.
The cities of refuge served as sanctuaries, or places of amnesty, for those who may have accidentally or unintentionally killed another. Their accusers were unable to harm these individuals, so long as they remained within the cities of refuge.
Sanctuary as symbolism
The refuge, or sanctuary concept, appears frequently in classic literature and films. Consider this scene from Disney’s 1996 animated motion picture, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (based on the 1831 novel by Victor Hugo).
The evil Judge Frollo wrongfully accused the gypsy Esmerelda of witchcraft, and sentenced her to be burned at the stake. However, Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, swung in to rescue her and carry her to safety within the church.
“Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” Quasimodo cried.
May we call out for the same, as we ever need the Lord’s rescue.
The Lord is our sanctuary.
Certainly, the presence of God serves as our refuge. Although we may call our places of divine worship sanctuaries, we also know that He Himself is our amnesty and security. His covering protects us from the Accuser. The Lord alone pleads our case and justifies us.
A simple word study reveals close to 100 appearances of the word “refuge” in the Bible. Here are a few of these:
“Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry,
and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”
“But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You.”
(Psalm 5:11, NASB)
“O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge;
Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me.”
(Psalm 7:1, NASB)
“Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.”
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
“Guard my soul and deliver me;
Do not let me be ashamed,
for I take refuge in You.
How blessed we are that the Lord Himself promises to be our refuge, our deliverer and our place of safety – no matter what comes our way.
Will you pray with me?
Our Savior and our sanctuary,
May we ever seek our safety in You,
For only You can guard us,
As we cling to Your hand
And rest close to Your heart.
We praise You,