"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Wednesday, November 2, 2022


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

NUMBERS 35: “The KINSMAN GOEL is YOUR REFUGE” by James Fire, check out the complete teaching here! 

INTRODUCTION: Moses’ time is almost finished, and yet there are challenges for Israel right around the corner – one such challenge is Jericho.

But that’s a challenge that Joshua will answer. Just as with the apostle Paul who could confidently declare: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”, Moses could say the same. And just as Paul passed the proverbial baton on to Timothy, Moses will pass his to Joshua.

Yet the Lawgiver isn’t quite yet finished; there are some things for him yet to do (we still have to address the entire book of DEUTERONOMY, the fifth and last book written by Moses – a rehearsal of righteous reminders to the next generation of Israel.

For now, we will deal with the inheritance of the Levites, and these peculiar edicts that revolve around what’s referred to as “the cities of refuge” and as well as those, “the avenger”, or “the avenger of blood”.

NUMBERS 35:1-2
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, saying: 2 "Command the children of Israel that they give the Levites cities to dwell in from the inheritance of their possession, and you shall also give the Levites common-land around the cities

As we have heard already in LEVITICUS and here in NUMBERS, each tribe was to inherit land with territories of various sizes according to the size of their tribe, with the exception of the Levites – they inherited land alright, but not in a single territory like their countrymen. The Levites, these Old Testament priests of GOD inherited cities, and in addition to these, they also inherited land around the other cities belonging to the other tribes.

We as the church are the New Testament counterpart to the Old Testament priesthood (1 PET 2:9), the LORD Jesus being our high priest after the order not of Aaron but of Melchizedek (HEB 7) and we likewise will inherit a city: the New Jerusalem that is so closely associated with the church, that it’s referred to as “the Lamb’s wife” – because it’s the dwelling place for her!
9 Then one of the seven angels …
[said], "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
NUMBERS 35:3-5
3 "They shall have the cities to dwell in; and their common-land shall be for their cattle, for their herds, and for all their animals. 4 "The common-land of the cities which you shall give the Levites shall extend from the wall of the city outward a thousand cubits all around. 5 "And you shall measure outside the city on the east side two thousand cubits, on the south side two thousand cubits, on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits. The city shall be in the middle. This shall belong to them as common land for the cities.

The city limits for all the cities of Israel extended for two thousand cubits (3,000’) in all directions from the city walls (this was considered the common land for the city; beyond these limits would be considered today “the suburbs”). Within those city limits, the Levites were to possess one thousand cubits, or in other words, half of the entire city limits (or 1,500’) this was considered the common land for the Levites).

NUMBERS 35:6-8
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. 7 "So all the cities you will give to the Levites shall be forty-eight; these you shall give with their common-land. 8 "And the cities which you will give shall be from the possession of the children of Israel; from the larger tribe you shall give many, from the smaller you shall give few. Each shall give some of its cities to the Levites, in proportion to the inheritance that each receives."

We learn here that the Levites inherited forty eight cities in total, six of them being “cities of refuge” that are theirs exclusively; in larger territories they would possess more cities, and obviously fewer cities in the smaller territories.

What can we learn from this peculiar rendering of inheritance? What spiritual insights can we obtain from these verses?
We are talking about the tribe of Levi here, whose inheritance is firstly, the LORD Himself:

NUMBERS 18:20-23
20 Then the LORD said to Aaron: "You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel. 21 "Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. 22 "Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. 23 "But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance
(also DEUT 18:2).

The LORD was the inheritance of the Levitical priesthood, and the Levitical priesthood belonged especially to the LORD, they were consecrated for His service:

NUMBERS 3:11-12
11 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 12 "Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine,

The holy priesthood replaced the first born as the inheritance of the LORD; the priesthood would possess the territories around the cities of Israel and would possess their own cities within the borders of other tribes. Having these holy priests peppered throughout Israel and surrounding four dozen of their cities would mean ready access to these consecrated representatives for GOD.
This speaks of the sanctification and consecration in each Christian’s life as the Spirit of GOD works in renewing and expanding on the sanctification of our minds, establishing “territories of holiness” in our otherwise carnal ways of thinking, influencing our conduct and actions with holy motivations.

Just as the Levites were to have a sanctifying influence on their brethren by their close proximity, likewise we are not only sanctified by the Spirit of GOD Who is in close proximity to us, in fact dwells in us.
Because of this reality we’re to have a sanctifying influence on our families, neighbors, co-workers – anyone that we are in close proximity to, because we are the LORD’s salt of the Earth, we are the light of the LORD in this dark world. As you probably know, both salt and light are excellent at keeping bacterial corruption under control. Likewise our spiritual salt and light are to keep back spiritual corruption in society.

Look at our society: does it look corrupt? In our government and politics? In enterprise and business? In our culture? Our neighborhoods? What’s happened?
MATTHEW 5:13-16
13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Let us seek GOD, and ask for a restoration of spiritual saltiness, and for the light of the LORD to shine clearly from our lives. May we continue to pray that the LORD restore a hunger for holiness to His church.

NUMBERS 35:9-15
9 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 'then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge [places of asylum] for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there. 12 'They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment. 13 'And of the cities which you give, you shall have six cities of refuge. 14 'You shall appoint three cities on this [east] side of the Jordan
[river], and three cities you shall appoint in the land of Canaan, which will be 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.

Anyone who’s played a game of Tag understands the principle of these cities of refuge. In the game of Tag, one person is appointed as the catcher – it’s their objective to tag one of the other players, and when they are successful, then the other player becomes the catcher. But the catcher can’t touch anyone who is in the appointed safe zone. Any player that enters the safe zone has to count to 30 out loud at which time they must leave and are once again in danger of being caught.

If a person in Israel kills someone by accident (what we would call today, “man slaughter”) they are in danger by family members of the slain who are duty bound to kill the perpetrator. The perpetrator, if he can make it to the city of refuge and convince the city fathers that the killing was an accident, they can remain in the city of refuge and the family, specifically, the one called “the avenger” can’t touch him.

All of this strikes us as a little bizarre because of our own legal system. In our law, if a person commits murder or manslaughter they serve time in prison to various degrees or is given capital punishment, death by execution (which is becoming more and more politically incorrect).

Notice that in ancient Israel, there were no police, no prisons. Jurisprudence (the methods of a legal system) was based upon this type of legal action, itself based on the Law of GOD (EXOD 21), and an even earlier law found in GENESIS:
"Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.
The family member appointed to chase down the perpetrator is referred to as “the avenger”. He is also called “the avenger of blood” (vs.19; mentioned in DEUT 19; JOSH 20):
1 "When the LORD your God has cut off the nations whose land the LORD your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, 2 "you shall separate three cities for yourself in the midst of your land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess. 3 "You shall prepare roads for yourself and divide into three parts the territory of your land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, that any manslayer may flee there. 4 "And this is the case of the manslayer who flees there, that he may live: Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him in time past 5 "as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies, he shall flee to one of these cities and live; 6 "lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past.
But also notice in vs. 11,12:
11 "But if anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities, 12 "then the elders of his city shall send and bring him from there, and deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.
NUMBERS 35:16-18
16 'But if he strikes him with an iron implement, so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. 17 'And if he strikes him with a stone in the hand, by which one could die, and he does die, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death. 18 'Or if he strikes him with a wooden hand weapon, by which one could die, and he does die, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.

All the above speaks of willful intent, possibly premeditated (consider Cain’s intentional and probably premeditated killing of his brother Abel). The perpetrator is charged with what we would call first degree murder.

NUMBERS 35:19-21
19 'The avenger of blood himself shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. 20 'If he
[the murderer] pushes him out of hatred or, while lying in wait, hurls something at him so that he dies, 21 'or in enmity he strikes him with his hand so that he dies, the one who struck him shall surely be put to death. He is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.

This avenger of blood (ga’al) is also referred to in the Hebrew language as a “kinsman redeemer” or “the kinsman goel”. So this person has two different functions:

If a near kinsman is in debt, he might have to work it off through labor as a servant, either until the debit is fully paid, or when the year of jubilee comes (which happened only every fifty years) in which case all debts were declared null, and void and all slaves were set free.

There was another alternative however: if the debtor had a near relative who had the means off paying off their family members debt, they could be appealed to as a kinsman redeemer or goel: but they had to be a relative, not a friend or a neighbor; and they had to be willing to pay – they were under no obligation to do so.

This same person would be duty bound to go after anybody who killed a family member of theirs and lawfully kill that murderer who slew his family member out of hatred; that was the office of the avenger of blood.

But again, if the killer, we might call him the perpetrator, could make it to a city of refuge and convince the city fathers that it was an accident (manslaughter, not murder), they could dwell in the city, remain safe, and the avenger of blood couldn’t touch them. If the perpetrator left the city, he was vulnerable and unsafe, subject to the avenger of bloods vengeance.

How long could this go on? Would the perpetrator have to live in that city of refuge for the rest of his life? Could the avenger of blood camp outside the city limits forever? Let’s read on:

NUMBERS 35:22-28
22 'However, if he pushes him suddenly without enmity, or throws anything at him without lying in wait, 23 'or uses a stone, by which a man could die, throwing it at him without seeing him, so that he dies, while he was not his enemy or seeking his harm, 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 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.

That’s an odd sort of legal requirement don’t you think? What would the death of the high priest have to do with some matter of manslaughter, the perpetrator, and the avenger of blood? We have something of a mystery here, and several clues that point us to the answer.

NUMBERS 35:29-32
29 'And these things shall be a statute of judgment to you throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 30 'Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty. 31 'Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death. 32 'And you shall take no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the priest.

A single witness to a murder wasn’t sufficient; there had to be two or more (DEUT 17:6). No murderer could pay off the right people to get out of the death penalty, nor could any such murderer pay off the fathers of the city so that they could stay there, even though they left before the high priest died. In other words, no bribes allowed.

NUMBERS 35:33-34
33 'So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. 34 'Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.'

Getting back to the murderer Cain and his victim Abel in GENESIS 4

GENESIS 4:10-11
10 And He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground. 11 "So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.

I’m not certain that blood crying out from the ground reaching the ears of GOD is completely metaphorical. We know that “the life is in the blood” – so when blood is shed, I think GOD hears in some way, like scratching a chalk board with your fingernails, an offensive, harsh noise in a spiritual sense.

What about the near 70 million cries of the unborn that has stained our own ground here in American, from sea to shining sea? What will happen to all those who have murdered these innocent lives if they don’t come to repentance and salvation from their sins by receiving the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

The LORD has spoken, “vengeance is mine, I will repay” (ROM 12:19).

The Second Person of the Trinity, the Word made flesh. He became a family member of Adam’s family; we have His genealogy recorded in LUKE 3. He will be the avenger of blood Who will render due punishment upon all who have victimized the Son of man’s Adamic brothers and sisters man, even “hatred without a cause will be in danger of judgment” (MATT 5:22).

The LORD Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, born of the stock of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, born of the tribe of Judah, belonging to the house of David, and thereby heir to the throne of David.
The people of Israel are His brethren – and think about all the carnage of the Jewish people since the beginning of time: Egyptian Pharaohs, Assyrian, Babylonian, Roman rulers, various Muslim realms, the six million slain by Germany, unhindered by European states or even America for that matter (that’s a sad story with no time to talk about here).

To say nothing of what’s yet to come upon Israel under the reign of antichrist; at the time of the Holocaust one of every three Jews in the world was killed. At this time yet future, the Beast will kill two out of every three Jews (ZECH 13:8-9).
The expression of the first generation of Jews that founded the reborn State of Israel was, and still is, “never again”, but unfortunately, this terrible bloodshed will happen again, but will be twice as deadly.

In fact, the LORD Jesus, Who is the Ultimate Avenger of blood, will render judgment and execution upon all unrepentant sinners! And He won’t be the only witness! The Law will also be a witness against the crimes committed against the throne of GOD!
1 TIMOTHY 1:8-10
8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,
We as the saints of GOD, the church of Jesus Christ have a city of refuge to flee to, so that we could escape the judgment of GOD rendered by the Son of Man, the Messiah of Israel, the Avenger of blood!

HEBREWS 6:18-19 speaks of that which for “…we … have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…”

The hope of salvation by our Kinsman Redeemer who met both requirements necessary: He is family, not a neighbor, not merely a friend:

1) Jesus Christ, the Son of man as He relates to us in His humanity, as well as the Son of David, as He relates to the Jews. He is family to both.
2) He is a kinsman Who was under no obligation to pay our debt of sin but did so willingly, out of His love for us.

We have JESUS as our City of Refuge, Who is no longer a threat to us as the Avenger of blood! And how long do we stay in this refuge before we can find liberty, before we can be set free?

Until the high priest dies! And Who is our high priest? JESUS!!

8 Now when He
[our kinsman redeemer and high priest] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

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