When they were ready to cross the Jordan, God instructed the Israelites to divide up the land according to the numbers in each tribe.
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Give these instructions to the Israelites: When you come into the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your special possession, these will be the boundaries...(Numbers 34:1-2ff NLT)
The Levites, though, were not to be given land to plant and harvest. They would be given places to live, but their real inheritance was tied to their work for God.
While Israel was camped beside the Jordan on the plains of Moab across from Jericho, the LORD said to Moses, "Command the people of Israel to give to the Levites from their property certain towns to live in, along with the surrounding pasturelands. These towns will be for the Levites to live in, and the surrounding lands will provide pasture for their cattle, flocks, and other livestock. (Numbers 35:1-3 NLT)
What I find most interesting, though, was the additional instruction the LORD gave to the Israelites. They were told to set aside six cities for a special purpose.
The LORD said to Moses, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. "When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, designate cities of refuge to which people can flee if they have killed someone accidentally. These cities will be places of protection from a dead person's relatives who want to avenge the death. The slayer must not be put to death before being tried by the community. (Numbers 35:9-12 NLT)
These cities would save people who were marked for death because they had killed someone. It insured that they receive a fair trial first. That way, if it was an accident they would not be punished the same way as if it were on purpose. I guess technically, though, a person who killed on purpose could flee to one of these cities, too. He would be protected from the death penalty as long as he stayed in the city of refuge.
"But if the slayer ever leaves the limits of the city of refuge, and the avenger finds him outside the city and kills him, it will not be considered murder. The slayer should have stayed inside the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest, the slayer may return to his own property. These are legal requirements for you to observe from generation to generation, wherever you may live. (Numbers 35:26-29 NLT)
God’s grace is a gift. It keeps us from getting what we deserve for the wrong we have done. It is a “city of refuge” of sorts. Jesus provides that covering and that protection from the wrath of God. This is why we all need Jesus. He is our city of refuge.
How about you? Have you run to our city of refuge (Jesus) to protect you? Are you thankful for God’s grace?