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neighborhood policemen March 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Joshua 20:1- 21:42; 1Chronicles 6:54-81; Joshua 21:43-45

Refuge and Direction

Animal refuges are set up to protect certain species from becoming extinct. Abused women and children flee to safe houses to receive protection from aggressors. Policemen are dispersed throughout cities and neighborhoods to bring control and safety to its citizens. In a similar way, God provided cities of refuge and dispersed priests throughout the land of Israel in 1400 B.C.

Cities of Refuge were dispersed throughout the Land of Israel. Three cities were in the eastern tribes of Israel, in the northern, central, and southern areas of the land; and three cities were in the western tribes of Israel, in the northern, central, and southern areas of the land. The purpose for these cities was a place of refuge where someone might flee if he accidentally killed someone. It would provide protection from the avenger of blood (a close relative assigned to avenge the blood of the deceased) until his case could be decided. These cities were to prevent needless bloodshed in the land. If it was decided the perpetrator was guilty of murder, the elders of the city would hand him over to the avenger and he would be killed. If he were innocent, however, he stayed in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. Afterward, the person could return to his home. The placement of refuge cities throughout Israel made it accessible for everyone.

Along with leading in worship and taking care of the tabernacle and its services, the Levites provided direction for Israel in regards to the Law of God. The Levite tribe was scattered throughout Israel, as predicted by the Patriarch Jacob, for their complicit killing of all the men of the city of Shechem; one Shechemite man had raped their sister (Genesis 49:5-7). Because the tribe of Levi and Phinehas (a son of a high priest) later stood on the side of the LORD, however, God showed them some grace; though dispersed amongst the rest of the tribes, they would now be his ministers and priests (Exodus 32:26-29; Numbers 25:11-13).

God promised he would provide them towns and pastures throughout the Promised Land (Numbers 35:2-8). Now God would keep his promise. In addition to some of the Levite towns being cities of refuge, their presence throughout Israel should have had a sanctifying influence on the rest of the Israelites. Since the Levites were to proclaim and teach the Law (Deuteronomy 17:9-11; 27:12-26), this should have brought more law and order throughout the land. A typical Israelite had access to the Levites whenever he had questions about the Law. Unfortunately, we will learn later that the Levites did not carry out their responsibilities to teach the Law to the people. What about us? We who are Christians have been scattered throughout our neighborhood, our towns and cities, and throughout the world; are we influencing our world for good? Are we available? Do people know they can come to us if they have some question about spiritual matters?

Where do we go when we need a refuge for our souls? We do not need to go to a priest; we can look directly to God for help. Through his Son Jesus Christ we can have forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). His Word the Bible gives us direction for living.

God is Faithful

God was faithful to keep his word to the Levites in giving them towns surrounded by pasturelands in Israel; he was faithful to the two and one-half tribes east of the Jordan who fought with the other Israelites for their inheritance; and God was faithful to the rest of the tribes of Israel.

So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. (Joshua 21:45, NIV)

God keeps his promises. We may slip and falter in our faithfulness but God never does.

Lessons to live by:

  • God has dispersed Christians to be gospel lights in their communities and throughout the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
  • God is a refuge for our souls (more...) and the Bible gives us direction for living .
  • Be available and open to share Biblical counsel with your friends, family, neighbors, and even acquaintances. God may have put you there for that very purpose.
  • God keeps his promises. We may slip and falter in our faithfulness, but God never does.

Today's Bible memory:

Psalm 145:13b “The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.” (NIV)

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