“Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.” (NIV) Joshua 20:1-3
In the books of Numbers 35 and Deuteronomy 19, vivid accounts of the cities of refuge were given. Moses was instructed by God to tell the children of Israel to give the Levites forty-eight cities as their inheritance when the land of Canaan finally becomes theirs. Out of the forty-eight cities allocated to the Levites, six were to be the cities of refuge. These cities were to be refuge for any person who kills another person unawares. In the past, when someone kills someone, he is also killed. But God made provision for people who kill other people accidentally. The only place a person (slayer) who kills another person unawares can be protected from being killed is the city of refuge. That person must just flee to any of the cities of refuge and he would be safe.
It is said that in the land of Canaan, cities of refuge were arranged such that any man (may find refuge as he flees from the avenger of blood) might reach one of them within half a day at most. Today, the word of our salvation is nearer than we can imagine. Jesus Christ, our refuge from sin is waiting just by to receive us if we turn away from our transgressions. His arms are wide open to receive us if we are willing to come to Him.
With regard to the roads to the city of refuge, we are told that they were strictly preserved, every river was bridged, and every obstruction removed, so that the man who fled might find an easy passage to the city. Once a year the elders went along the roads and saw to their order, so that nothing might impede the flight of anyone, and cause him, undue delay, to be overtaken and slain. How graciously do the promises of the gospel remove stumbling blocks from the way! The Gospel of the death of our Saviour on the cross and His resurrection has paved the way for every man to easily come to Him for refuge from sin.
On the way to the cities of refuge, there were by-roads and turnings, there were fixed up hand-posts, with the inscription upon them--"To the city of refuge!" This is a picture of the road to Christ Jesus. The road to Jesus is also a straight road: "Believe, repent, baptize, do his will and live." It is a road so hard that no self-righteous man can ever tread it, but so easy, that every sinner, who knows himself to be a sinner may by it find his way to heaven.
No sooner did the man-slayer pass through the entrance of the city than he was safe; it was not necessary for him to pass way deep into the city, but the suburbs themselves were sufficient protection. Learn that if you do but touch the hem of Christ's garment, you shall be made whole; if you do but lay hold upon him with faith as a grain of mustard seed, you are safe.
It is time to run from the avenger of blood (the evil one) and seek protection in the only city of refuge (Jesus Christ) where there will be no condemnation but rather salvation for your soul. God bless you.