Christ, Refuge for the Sinner
Updated: Oct 11, 2020
This blog is based on the transcript of a sermon preached by Jimmy Chrisman at Liberty Avenue Baptist Church, Berea, KY, on September 12, 1976; and edited October 11, 2020 for this blog by J. David Chrisman.
Numbers 35:6,13,15,24-28 (NKJV)
6 “Now among the cities which you will give to the Levites you shall appoint six cities of refuge, to which a manslayer may flee. And to these you shall add forty-two cities. 13 And of the cities which you give, you shall have six cities of refuge. 15 These six cities shall be for refuge for the children of Israel, for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills a person accidentally may flee there. 24 then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood according to these judgments. 25 So the congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall return him to the city of refuge where he had fled, and he shall remain there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil. 26 But if the manslayer at any time goes outside the limits of the city of refuge where he fled, 27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the limits of his city of refuge, and the avenger of blood kills the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of [murder] blood, 28 because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession.
Joshua 20:2,7,9 (NKJV)
2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Appoint [designate] for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses,
7 So they appointed Kedesh in Galilee, in the mountains of Naphtali, Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and Kirjath Arba (which is Hebron) in the mountains of Judah.
9 These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel and for the stranger who [as a resident alien] dwelt among them, that whoever killed a person accidentally might flee there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood until he stood before the congregation.
God instructed Moses to take six cities from the land of Canaan and designate them as “Cities of Refuge.” These were cities to which those who had accidentally killed someone could flee and be safe from punishment. God had previously commanded that any person who killed another on purpose should be put to death. He would be sentenced as a murderer and the victim’s nearest living relative was permitted to do the execution wherever they found him. But in the case of one being killed by accident, for fear of the victim’s “Avenger of Blood,” the perpetrator could flee to one of these Cities of Refuge and could not be harmed until a trial and pronouncement of punishment. The city of refuge was responsible to see that justice was done to the one seeking refuge. But if some one came to the city and was guilty of premeditated or hatred or rage-fueled murder, he was to be delivered to the Avenger of Blood and put to death outside the city.
When a person was found that he unintentionally, by accident, has been instrumental in someone’s death, he was still to stay in the City of Refuge. The Avenger of Blood could still avenge the death of his loved one if the man was found outside the city walls. We might say that he was still under house arrest within the confines of the City of Refuge.
We even see in the protection of the city for the man, there were many things to mark God’s hatred for murder – even though no blame was attached to the man who had accidentally killed another, yet he must flee all that was dear to him and seek refuge for his life under house arrest for as long as he lived or until the death of the High Priest (for at the death of the High Priest, he was permitted to leave the City of Refuge and return to his family).
Let us now look at Hebrews 6:18-20 (NKJV):
18 that by two [unchangeable] immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Paul is making an indirect reference here to the Cities of Refuge, and the man fleeing for safety as a type of Christ – The Refuge for the Sinner. Let us look at the kind of Refuge Christ is:
Christ is a Protecting Refuge
John 10:7-15,27-29 (NKJV):
7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling [hired man], he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
In Isaiah, God is said to be “a refuge from the storm” (Isaiah 25:4)
In Psalm 59:16, David sang, “But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.”
As the man who killed another by accident found protection from the Avenger of Blood in the City of Refuge, so those who flee to Christ find protection from the wrath to come (1Thessalonians 1:10), from the curse of the broken Law (Galatians 3:10), from the judgment of God (Exodus 34:7), from the consequences of sin (Hebrews 9:26), from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13), from the love of the world (Galatians 1:4), from the dominion of sin (Romans 6:16), and find safety in the day of trouble (Psalm 59:16).
Christ is a Pleasant Refuge
Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV): 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [meek] gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
In Joel 3:16, we read that “the Lord will be a shelter for His people” – the term “shelter” also meaning, “a place of shelter, repair, or harbor.” This teaches us that God is a pleasant harbor of refuge. Harbors are built at great cost to provide places of rest for storm-tossed sailors where they can also shelter in safety from the dangers of stormy seas. We can understand a sailor who has known the protection of one of these harbors regarding it as a pleasant place.
But what is this in comparison with what Christ is? For He is:
· Rest of conscience (Matthew 11:28)
· Joy of the heart (John 15:11)
· Satisfaction of the soul (Psalm 36:8)
· Brightness of hope (1Peter 1:3)
· Gladness of spirit (John 20:20)
· Preciousness of promise (2Peter 1:3)
· Pleasantness of peace (Proverbs 3:17)
Christ is a Permanent Refuge
Hebrews 13:5: 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
In Deuteronomy 33:27, we are told that “the eternal God is your refuge.” The term “refuge” in this verse can also mean “habitation” – which teaches us that God is the home of those who have fled to Him. The refugee was not to go out of his place of safety until the death of the High Priest (Joshua 20:6). Jesus Christ is our High Priest and He shall never die; therefore, with Him we shall live in the power of an endless life.
It is in this way that He:
· Saves evermore (to the uttermost) (Hebrews 7:25)
· Those whom the Lord takes up He never gives up (John 10:28-29)
· Forever we shall be with the Lord (1Thessalonians 4:17) is the lock that secures us into the glory and gladness of His presence for all eternity
· Among the precious “no mores” of the book of Revelation is this one: “He shall go out no more” (Revelation 3:12)
Christ is a Personal Refuge
Revelation 3:20 (NKJV): 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
It is not enough to know that Christ is the Savior. The essential thing is to make personal application to Him and each one to receive for oneself. The testimony of one of God’s great saints is by Dr. Doddridge, Minister, on his dying bed, he made this statement: “I have no hope in what I have been or done, yet I am full of confidence, and this is my confidence, there is hope set before me. I have fled, I still fly for refuge to that Hope. In Him I trust, in Him I have strong consolation, and shall assuredly be accepted in this Beloved of my soul.”
Having fled to Christ as the refuge for your soul, the next thing is to make Him your abiding place – for as there was no safety outside the City of Refuge, there is no safety outside of Christ. Neither is there any joy is we are not abiding in Him through obedience to His Word (John 15:1-11).
I heard a preacher once say, “I never have a moment’s peace when I turn the slightest degree to conformity with the world; but I always have a great peace when my soul returns home to its City of Refuge – the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 3:10-12,23-26; 6:23 (NKJV):
3:10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”
3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely [without any cost] by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation [mercy seat] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the [free] gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
John 3:16-20: 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
Communion with Christ is the only source of satisfaction – the only true source of joy. Sinner, you need to be under the shelter and safety of Christ. You need to be saved from the wrath of God and from sin. Trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. He is your only Refuge. Turn from sin and heed the Spirit’s call to be saved – for today is the day of salvation and your eternal Refuge is knocking at your door.
© 1976 by Jimmy Chrisman
© 2020 by J. David Chrisman