Numbers Chapter 35:9-28

“The Sinner’s Refuge”


The Bible is a book of REALITY and PRACTICALITY/ The Bible gives real life SOLUTIONS to daily problems & Dilemmas

A)In our text today we see  a clear case of God's Word addressing the reality of Old Testament life


B)Here we see God addressing an established cultural practice of that time

1) NOTE: God did NOT necessarily CONDONE those practices BUT He sought to CONTROL them


C) God did NOT create those practices- But He sought to REGULATE those practices

1) Practices that were woven into the FABRIC of the CULTURE of that day


EX: One of the practices that were woven into the culture of that day was POLYGAMY - The practice of having more than one wife

A)Why a man would want this I have no idea – Most of us have a hard enough time keeping happy one wife – Why want several


B) But it was a common practice in those days / Now God did NOT create that practice nor did He condone it

1) But in the OT Law, God sought to REGULATE it & CONTROL it !!!


C) Another such practice was slavery- Now God did NOT create that institution nor did He condone it

1) But  in the Old Testament Law,  God  sought to REGULATE it


Now Later on, AS the Bible unfolds & GREATER illumination is given from God to His People

A)As There is a greater revelation of the heart and mind of God, there is an adjustment, and correction of these practices


B) As revelation increased there is an increase in responsibility

     As understanding was given, so was accountability

The same is true for our children - As we raise our children, the more they understand, the more we expect from them!!!

A)EXAMPLE: When Amanda our Youngest was Potty Training- [THAT it is always a Happy time for a Parent – No more Pampers ]


B) Public place – Daddy I’ve got to go Potty – Excited & people especially ones who haven’t had kids – look at you like your weird

1)   But it doesn’t matter – This is an important time


C) But when a Child is Potty training – there are those times when they Mess up – they forget - you expect a few accidents

1)    And Amanda had her moments of BAKCSLIDING like any kids does – You expect that as a parent when their 2 or 3


D) But if they are still having accidents & moments of Backsliding like that when they are 23 – Problem

1) Older they get the more that we Expect – God as a Parent is no different


E) He deals with us in a certain way at a certain time- He increases our understanding as we move into greater      maturity


That is why we read in MATTHEW 19

3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?"


A)See that was the custom – Man could divorce his wife for any reason/ older / not as pretty / lousy meal


B) So they asked that question & Jesus answered – No but Accept for SEXUAL IMMORALITY it is not lawful for a man to divorce his wife


C) But they argued Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" 8 He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

D) Jesus is pointing out that the REGULATION was given because of the     SITUATION of that day- to deal w/ the custom

1) But later Jesus came on the scene/ He gave AMPLIFICATION & Understanding to that Custom -Now there is more RESPONSIBILITY


E) You can NOT divorce your wife for burning the toast{ Only Sexual immorality.


Now I say all of this to help you understand as you read the OT & study the laws to be on the look out & perceptive  of the culture of that day

A)To understand that God was dealing w/ his people in a certain manner at a certain time – when they didn’t have the whole Bible 


B) But as time went on & the Scriptures were penned God would be unfolding to his people greater REVELATION & UNDERSTANDING

1) And w/ that Greater REVELATION comes Greater RESPONSIBILITY as they matured & Progressed in their relationship w/ Him



Now We have in our text this morning a situation which God did NOT CREATE, but rather He is seeking to REGULATE

A) That practice is the AVENGING OF BLOOD - A practice that is still a large part of the Middle Eastern culture today


B) WHAT is the avenging of blood?  It is a matter of family honor!!!

1) During that time families ties were strong - & Family Honor was really really Important !!!!


C) SO IF a member of your family was killed intentionally or accidentally

1) THEN it was your responsibility to find the killer and kill him


E) Because IF you did NOT avenge the blood... THEN you brought great disgrace upon your family

1)Even if it was an accident and the killer was a close friend/ Neighbor

 You were Held responsible to find him &  kill him or family was disgraced


Now this custom was so woven into the Fabric of the Culture that God recognized the situation & sought a Practical Solution for it

A)He sought to bring REGULATION by establishing these CITIES OF REFUGE - There were SIX of these cities of refuge


B) These 6 cities were from the 48 appointed Levitical cities { Look at Wed

1) A man who was guilty of manslaughter could run to one of these   cities and be safe from the avenger of blood


C) EXAMPLE: Hunting accident You & a Friend see a Buck – separate

1) You fire your arrow into a bush and you have shot your friend


D) TWO Reactions You would be CRUSHED: But then you would be TERRORIZED

1) Because you KNOW that his brother is going to come after you


E) SO - You run as HARD and as FAST as you can for the nearest city of refuge


NOTE: These cities of refuge  were ACCESSIBLE

A)They were located in such a way that they could be reached in a days journey from ANYWHERE in Israel....


B) Every 3 miles there was a sign pointing the way and the word REFUGE

IF you made it to the city, THEN you were safe


C) Once a year the Rabbis went down the roads that led to these cities & made sure that they were at least 48 inches wide at their narrowest point

1) All rocks and stumps were removed to prevent an individual from tripping and being caught


D) Now according to v.25 You would have to stay within the city boundaries until the death of the high priest

1) That could be 5 months/ or 50 years/Then & only then could you go home

NOTE: Refuge was to be provided for every kind of accidental death

A)There was only ONE thing that would disqualify you from obtaining refuge-  That was premeditated murder


B) If that was the case THEN the city would NOT offer you refuge

1) You would be taken out of the city/ You would stand trial

    If you were found guilty, then you would be slain



What is the relevance of the City of Refuge to us today?

A)There is a powerful picture of a person- Jesus Christ is our city of refuge-  It is to HIM that we run


B) It is IN HIM that we find safety !!!!

1) See God made this PRACTICAL PROVISION for the OT believers so that we might have a PRESENT UNDERSTANDING of Jesus



WHY must we run to Jesus?

A)There are those who might say: "I'm NOT a murderer"

    Why would I need a REFUGE? Why do I need to RUN to Jesus?


B) NOTE: Jesus said: Matt. 5:21-22   21“You have heard that it was said to our people long ago, ‘You must not murder anyone. Anyone who murders another will be judged.’ 22But I tell you, if you are angry with a brother or sister, w/out CAUSE you will be judged. [ Idea is Judged as a murderer ] If you say bad things to a brother or sister, you will be judged by the council. And if you call someone a fool, you will be in danger of the fire of hell.


C) Will any of you dare to say: "I have NEVER been angry at someone"?

1) That places us all into the category of manslayer


D) We are a congregation of murderers



Now Some might say: "Well, maybe I'm guilty....... BUT, there is no avenger of blood that's after me"

A)Listen: You are being pursued- You are being pursued by your CONSCIENCE -   It runs hard after you


B) At night when you put your head on your pillow &  you are reminded of your sins

1)   Psychologist – state that the #1 Problem patience deal w/ is Guilt

News: We feel guilty because we are guility!!!!


C) Now it is not just your Conscience that Pursues you – But    The LAW of God pursues you

1) It pronounces you guilty & pronounces the sentence of death upon you


James 2:10    For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.


D) SO no matter how you try to slice it – we are Guilty !!!!!      


So We ALL need to flee to Jesus for Refuge in order to Escape the Guilt of our Conscience & escape the penalty of death pronounced by the law/

A)Note a Few things concerning Jesus being OUR CITY OF REFUGE,


B)1st Note the JESUS OUR CITY OF REFUGE is accessible


B) Even as these cities were located  to be accessible from ANY POINT in Israel, so Jesus Christ is ACCESSIBLE to ANYONE

1) He is accessible to YOU..... Today


C) In ROM 10, Paul says: We do NOT have to ascend into heaven to bring Christ down Nor do We do NOT have to descend into hell to bring Christ up

 8 But what does it say? "The word OF FAITH is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

HOW accessible is Jesus Christ?

A)Salvation is in your mouth- DON'T say that you have to ASCEND into heaven    "I have to go into deep contemplation and meditation"


"I must transcend the physical limitations and attain to that perfect inner knowledge through fasting and chanting and thus    break through into that place of perfect knowledge and peace that I have worked so hard to attain"


B) That mentality GARBAGE - It is NOT a matter of trying to ASCEND into heaven to bring Christ down


C) THAT is the lie of the New Age movement- That plays perfectly upon the PRIDE of man who will not humble himself to admit that He is a  sinner

1)   for whom God CAME down to in order to do for him what he could NEVER do for himself


D) Don’t have to ascend into Heaven


But DON'T say: I have to descend into hell

A)That attitude that says "I'm going to do penance for all of my sins"

  "I'll live the life of an ascetic.... inflict discomfort upon myself to atone for my sins"


B)EXAMPLE: To this day, every year before Easter, there are men in the Philippines who have themselves nailed to a cross... hoping that by descending into the hell of self punishment that they will be saved


C) None of that is Necessary You simply need to CALL UPON the Name of the Lord from a          sincere heart and you SHALL BE SAVED

1) He is ACCESSIBLE                  


2nd thing to NOTE: There are signs all along the way that point us to OUR CITY OF REFUGE { Turn to Matt 12:38


Matt 12:38-40 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." 39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.



The SIGN that points to Jesus as our REFUGE is His resurrection

A)NO Guru or Philosopher or Religious leader has ever conquered    death


John 2:19 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."


B) JESUS ALONE HAS risen from the dead- That is something that no one else has done or can EVER CAN do!!!!

1) That is the sign that points to Jesus as our REFUGE / His REZ /


C) THAT is why we are told Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.     


D) There is ONLY ONE way- The signs POINT only to ONE REFUGE


Now Suppose you were living in Old Testament times

A)You accidentally killed your friend- You ran as fast and as hard as you could - BUT - You did NOT respond to the signs


B) You were SINCERELY wanting refuge/ You were ENERGETIC in your attempted escape

1) You arrive at A city... BUT - Not one of the appointed cities

     You fall on the ground exhausted thinking: "I'm safe"


C) But then the avenger of blood  grabs you and says: "You're dead"

1) "DEAD!! No way I'm in the city "NO - You're in A  city... But not the  city"

D) "But I was sincere you say -  "Sorry - You are sincerely WRONG... and now you're dead"

1) You did NOT go to the APPOINTED place of refuge"


There are those today who say: "You can believe anything as       long as you're sincere"

A)"As long as YOU believe what you think is right, you're fine"


B) Listen There is NOT a choice / God has APPOINTED for us a CITY OF REFUGE.... It is Jesus

1)Now There are those who moan: "How NARROW... How RESTRICTING"


C) It is NOT RESTRICTING... It is LOVING -God knows that we are basically dumb All we like sheep have gone astray


D) Knowing our SIMPLICITY, God says: "I will NOT make this      confusing...... I'll make it easy for you...there is only ONE WAY

1)   He doesn’t give us 7 ways – because the devil will come back w/ 77 ways to get you all mixed up & messed up


E) Not 10 ways or 3 Ways God says clearly there is ONE WAY - Can you handle that?

1) Read the SIGNS... FLEE to the city that is our refuge



We read in Verses 20-22 of Num 35 that There was ONE exception to the City of Refuge Premeditated murder 

A) 3rd Note  There is ONE EXCEPTION where Jesus Christ can NOT and will NOT be YOUR City of Refuge


Matt 12:31-32 "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

B) When a man stands before God in Christ, he ultimately will      answer only for ONE sin

1)   The sin of REJECTING the City of Refuge


C) That is what the Blasphemy of the HS is about – The Sin of Rejecting Christ !!!!


D) It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring you to Jesus


John 16:8-11   And when he is come, he will CONVICT the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  Of sin, because they believe not on me;

  Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.


The Work of the HS in the world is to Convict men that they are sinners & that they need a Savior – Gives them a Sense of Guilt

A)So the HS convicts men of the sin of not believing in Jesus


B) OF righteousness – because  the standard of righteousness that is needed to stand before God  is Are YOU as perfect as Jesus


C) Which Jesus provided – for us by dying on the Cross


D) But If you REJECT the work of the Spirit in your life concerning belief in Jesus... concerning the standard of righteousness required by God....

1) concerning the triumph of Jesus over the powers that seek to enslave you


E) Then you will be Judged – That is the Blasphemy of the HS – to refuse HIS Work in your life to bring you to Christ     

1) If you refuse to flee to Jesus, there is NOTHING that can cleanse you sin


F) Then you are like the willful murderer in Numbers 35 You have then committed the UNPARDONABLE sin

1) There is NO place of refuge for you

                                                                    TURN BACK TO NUM 35

Now There is one last and VERY CRUCIAL observation to make here Rd v. 26 –28 again

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 blood, 28 because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest.


A)SO If someone said:  "I'm bored here in this City of Refuge

   I miss my friends... I miss my old life... I'm out of here"


B) SO they leave the place of REFUGE & the avenger of blood  finds them  and slays them, the avenger of blood  is NOT guilty


C) Because it was THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to stay in the City of Refuge

    1) If you leave the City.... You are vulnerable to destruction


D) So The GUILTY person must not only flee TO the City of Refuge to be safe-    He must ABIDE IN the City of Refuge in order to be safe


The Same is true for us – we are called to ABIDE IN JESUS OUR CITY OF REFUGE

A)Theologians can argue over terms such as "Once saved always saved" or "Eternal Security" or "perseverance of the saints"


B) BUT - The ULTIMATE place of security is ABIDING


C) Can’t lose your salvation – But you can leave it / Jesus won’t lose you – no one can snatch you out of His hands / But You can leave Him

1)   Given a Choice to follow Him  for Salvation – You have that same Choice after Salvation –


D) But why would someone who truly received Christ – leave Him? Good question – I don’t understand – but the Bible makes reference to it happening

1) 2 Tim 4:10 Demas departed from the faith having loved this present world

There is security when we are Abiding in Jesus our City of Refuge

John 15:5-6   5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.         


A) Now Jesus is NOT speaking theoretically or metaphorically

      IF you do NOT abide in Jesus, THEN you are cut off


B) Now is the fire to which they are burned – speaking of Judgment

1) Is it the fires of Hell ?  I won’t be dogmatic – but I don’t want to find out


Heb 10:26-28: 26 For if we sin willfully [ In Context of the Book of Heb this clearly talking about leaving JESUS the place of Refuge- that is the willful sin in mention here ] So if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.


C) There is a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

1)   That doesn’t sound to pleasant to me !!!!!


LISTEN The debate Concerning Eternal Security has raged for centuries in the Church

A)It has been discussed in thousands of volumes by the greatest theologians and the most Godly OF MEN on both sides of this issue


B) Do you know why the debate still rages? Because there are Scriptures that point to both


C) Which is why I believe this to be absolutely true:  I am ETERNALLY SECURE as long as I am secure in the eternal one

1) My assurance that I belong to Him is found in that place of abiding in Him and bearing fruit      

Gal 5:19-23 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


You can NOT have a SAVING relationship with Jesus, OUR CITY OF REFUGE, & still habitually PRACTICE the deeds of the flesh

A)The mark of a person really abiding in the Lord is their life is going to produce fruit


B) Have you fled to Jesus for refuge? Then abide there & as you do your life will bear fruit that is pleasing to the Lord!!


C) If you have NOT...  Then do NOT waste a moment for the Law will slay you if you do not reach the city