The Cities of Refuge were places that people guilty of manslaughter could live – restricted but productive lives with their families. Justice was served as far as the victim’s family was concerned too because the person guilty of manslaughter didn’t get off scot-free. Justice in family, church and society needs to show fairness, common sense and humanity.
“If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses. But no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness.”
It’s interesting to think about these verses with respect to Jesus and the events leading up to His crucifixion.
When we understand these laws that God gave to the people through Moses, it becomes obvious that the chief priests, leaders and pharisees (in Jesus’ time) were hypocrites, two-faced, not caring about the actual law of Moses when it stood between them and what they wanted.
Mark tells us in Mark 14:56 that at the trial when Jesus was before the council (chief priests, elders, scribes),
“For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree.”
And in v59,
“Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.”
They were clearly not obeying the law of Moses.
In Mark 14:63 this is highlighted again after Jesus says He is the Christ, as the high priest tears his clothes and says,
“What further witness do we need? You have heard his blasphemy.”
They don’t seem to truly care about God’s law.
In today’s passage in Numbers we read further down,
“Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death.”
Mark would no doubt have had this in mind when he describes Barabbas,
“And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.”
The chief priests knew this law, they were fully aware of what God had said through Moses. The action of swapping Barabbas for Jesus went completely against God’s commands.
What do we do when God’s word gets in the way of something we want? How do we react when the mirror that is God’s word reveals the truth of who we are, of our brokenness?
James tells us what we should be doing in James 1:25,
“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
It is hard to have the reality of our broken thoughts and desires be shown for what they are against the holiness of God. It is hard to choose the narrow way when we really want the thing that is glittering down the broad road.
Let’s be encouraged to persevere as the perfect law is revealed to us, planted and grown within us.
“In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” Psalm 119:14
* All-Powerful God,
You have given to us Your laws, Your commands, Your precepts and statutes.
These are for our good. You as the Sovereign Creator God have told us what is best for us.
Please help us to listen to Your word. Please open the eyes and ears of our hearts that we might not sin against You.