The LORD also spoke to Joshua, saying,…
I. There is an analogy BETWEEN OUR SITUATION AND THE SITUATION OF THOSE FOR WHOM THE CITY OF REFUGE WAS DESIGNED. It was not intended for the murderer. The law respecting him was that he should immediately be put to death, however palliating might be the circumstances connected with his crime, and however sacred the place to which he might flee for protection. Even the law respecting the manslayer bore in some points a resemblance to that which referred to the murderer. While provision was made for his safety if he chose to avail himself of it, it was also enjoined that should he be overtaken by the avenger of blood his life was to be the forfeit of his negligence. He had shed the blood of a fellow-man; and should he disregard the means of safety which were furnished to him, no guilt would be incurred, although by him whom he had injured his blood also should be shed. Now, all of us are chargeable with having transgressed the law of God. In one important respect, indeed, the comparison between us and the manslayer does not hold. He deprived his fellow of life without having meditated the deed, and therefore he did not contract moral guilt; for although the motive does not in every case sanctify the deed, it is to the motive that we must look in determining the virtuous or vicious nature of an action. We, however, have sinned against the Divine law voluntarily. We have done it in spite of knowledge, conviction, and obligation. Involved, then, as we are, in this universal charge of guilt, the justice of God is in pursuit of us, and is crying aloud for vengeance. And the condition of those whom it overtakes is utterly hopeless: death is the forfeit which they must pay. Let us guard against the callousness of those who, though they readily enough admit that they are sinners, seem to imagine that no danger is to be apprehended, and soothe themselves with the vague expectation that, since God is good, they shall somehow or other drop into heaven at last, and be taken beyond the reach of all that is painful. Oh! is it not infatuation thus to remain listless and secure, when God's anger is provoked, and equity demands the execution of the threatening? Would it have been folly in the manslayer to have deluded himself into the notion of his safety, at the very time that his infuriated enemy was in hot pursuit? and is it wise in the sinner, when Divine justice is about to seize him, to remain insensible to the hazard of his situation? But let us not despair. Our sin, it is true, has veiled Jehovah's face in darkness; but through that darkness a bright beam has broken forth, revealing to us peace and reconciliation.
II. There is an analogy BETWEEN OUR PROSPECTS AND THE PROSPECTS OF THE MANSLAYER UNDER THE LAW. By Joshua six cities of refuge were appointed, three on either side of Jordan, that the distance might not be too great which the man-slayer required to travel. Now, in Christ Jesus we have a city of refuge to which we are encouraged to repair for protection from the justice which is in pursuit of us. This refuge God Himself has provided; so that He whom we have injured has also devised and revealed to us the method by which our salvation may be effected. "Deliver," He said, "from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom." Nor is this divinely-provided deliverance difficult of being reached. Christ is ever near to the sinner, and no tiresome pilgrimage requires to be performed before He can be found. All obstructions have been removed out of the way which leads to His Cross, and everything has been done to facilitate our flight to its blessed shelter.
Parallel VersesKJV: The LORD also spake unto Joshua, saying,