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Joshua Chapter 20:1-21:11

Cross the Bridge / David McGee
The Truth Network Radio
March 17, 2024 1:00 am

Joshua Chapter 20:1-21:11

Cross the Bridge / David McGee

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We don't want anything to get in the way. We don't want to do anything where somebody might not understand what's going on or what we're doing or why we're doing it, because then something's gotten in the way. And you know what?

There's already too many things in the way. Aren't you glad that when you wanted to go into the City of Refuge, the way was clear? Welcome to Cross the Bridge with David McGee. David is the Senior Pastor of the Bridge in Kernersville, North Carolina. The church is to be a city of refuge. Today, Pastor David discusses the role of the church as he continues his study in the book of Joshua chapter 20. But first, when you're in trouble, where do you turn most often?

Do you look to yourself or the advice of your friends, or do you go straight to God? We want to help you experience the hope that comes from looking to the Lord when your life turns upside down by sending you Pastor David McGee's CD series titled, Lessons from the Wilderness. In this encouraging resource, Pastor David looks at one of the most difficult periods of King David's life to show you how you can wait confidently on God, no matter what you're facing. Lessons from the Wilderness is our thank you for your gift this month to share the hope of Christ with others. So please visit for your copy of Lessons from the Wilderness. Now here's David McGee with his teaching, City of Refuge. Let's turn to Joshua chapter 20. We've got an exciting study tonight talking about the cities of refuge, what they are, what they were for, and there's a beautiful, beautiful picture in there.

So let's jump in. Joshua chapter 20 verse 1. It says, Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand. And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city, and his own house, to the city from which he fled. So they appointed Kadesh and Galilee, and this is going to name the cities, in the mountains of Naphtali, Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and Kerjath Arba, which is in Hebron, Hebron, in the mountains of Judah. And on the east side of the Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness on the plain from the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth and Gilead from the tribe of Gad, and Golan and Bashan from the tribe of Manasseh. These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger who 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. So here we have a map with the cities of refuge. Now the thing down the middle is the Jordan, and so to the left side is, of course, to the west of the Jordan, to the right side is to the east of Jordan, there's three cities on each side.

Why is that? So you're never very far from a city of refuge. You were never very far from the protection that the Lord wanted to offer you. Now it's kind of interesting when you go through the names of these six cities, three on each side, the names are Kadesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan. And the Hebrew names, I think, are very important of these six cities. You see, Kadesh means righteousness, Shechem means shoulder, Hebron means fellowship, Bezer means fortress, Ramoth, heights, Golan, exile. See, these are words, you understand, the city of refuge as well as being a kind of a picture of the body of Christ is also a picture of Jesus himself. He is our righteousness. He's obviously a shoulder that we lean on, that we go to. He provides fellowship. He is our fortress. He is our shelter. Ramoth is the heights, going up to the heights, and Golan, we're all called pilgrims and sojourners. That's what we are. We've been exiled as we go to Jesus, as we run to Jesus, we leave the world behind.

And so all these words in one way or another kind of point to Jesus. But again, the question is, are you in the city of refuge? Are you in there safely tucked in the hand of Jesus?

That's where we want to be. Or, are you outside the gates? See, if you're outside the gates, the accuser is free to accuse you.

You stand on your own. And none of us want to stand on our own when it comes to the accuser of the brethren. Revelation 12 10 says, then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, now salvation and strength in the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ have come. For the accuser of our brethren who accused them before our God day and night has been cast down. You understand this is part of the role of the enemy of Satan is to accuse us, accuse us to God, accuse us to one another. How often do we play into his hands? How often do we play into his hands and accusing ourselves of something we've been forgiven of?

And how often do we fall into his trap of accusing other people? It's an amazing thing. You know, we can hear something and, oh, boy, that's, you know, that's gotta be true. That's gotta be true. He just looks like he'd do something like that.

Or she just looks like she'd do something like that. Are you walking in the grace of God when you talk like that? Or perhaps have you slipped into that role of being the accuser of the brethren? Now be careful. Be careful. Hebrews chapter six, verse 18 says, that by two 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. You can have a place of shelter. You can have a refuge.

And you know the awesome, awesome thing about it? Now they weren't far from these cities of refuge, but your city of refuge is much closer. Now I know one, one of the pictures here again is the body of Christ being a city of refuge, a place you can go. And certainly we're here. You can call us.

You can email us. You can drop by, whatever. But you have a city of refuge that's even closer than that. And that's Jesus himself. See, you don't even really need to call on another human sometimes. You can just shut your eyes wherever you are and run to that city of refuge and say, Jesus, oh, Jesus, you see what's going on in this situation? I just need to run to you right now, Lord, because I can feel myself getting stirred up and getting angry or anxious or depressed or whatever. And Lord, I don't want to do those things. I want to run to you.

I want to run to your arms. And a beautiful thing happens. Do you understand there's kind of some spiritual strategy to this? Because if the enemy comes to you trying to get you stirred up and trying to get you angry, and then you run into the arms of Jesus, that's not a good strategy, is it?

So you know what? He's going to think next time before he causes you to run into the arms of Jesus. I did that last time. The last time that guy ran the arms of Jesus. I don't think I'll try that again.

I'll try something new, try something different. But you can have this city of refuge that Jesus provides. Romans 5, 9 says, much more than having now been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. You see, by his blood that was shed on the cross, we can be forgiven. Yeah, I love the old hymn, Are You Washed? Are you washed in the blood of the lamb? But do you understand sometimes we say that and an unbeliever has no idea what we're talking about? I ain't washed in the blood.

That's weird. Try not to speak Christianese when you're speaking to somebody that isn't aware of the concept. It means that by the shed blood of Jesus Christ we can be forgiven of our sins. Don't take for granted that they know what that means. Explain it to them.

You never know. I grew up in church. I grew up in a religious home.

Not necessarily saved, okay, but religious. And one morning we did the old rugged cross. And somebody that had been here, it was the first morning we had done it, and somebody that had been here for like two years came up after the service and said, I love that new song. I said, what new song?

The old rugged cross. Did you write that? I said, no, I didn't.

That's actually an old hymn. And my heart just went out because it's like, she didn't know. She didn't know. And so often we assume people know things around us. Don't assume that. Even the people that go to church. Well, they go to church, they should know what the gospel is. Yeah, I know they should know, but they don't. Ask them to explain it. There was a survey and it was like 83% of born again Christians couldn't explain the gospel.

Kind of makes you wonder if they've been born again. I mean, it's not real complicated, is it? The gospel is not complicated.

I've heard kids break it down to just this. Jesus took my spanking for me. That's the gospel. I mean, that's pretty much, you know, there was, I did something wrong. There was sin and there was punishment and Jesus took it for me.

That's the good news. So don't assume people around you know the gospel, but explain it to them. Romans chapter eight, verse one, love this verse. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.

No condemnation. Isn't that a beautiful verse? Now, make sure you, when you quote this, make sure you quote the whole verse because I've heard people, some people go, ah, there's no condemnation. You know, I mean, you can say, you know what you're doing brother, there is no condemnation.

Well, wait a minute. What's the rest of the verse say? Rest of the verse says, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. So you got to be following the Lord and then there's no condemnation because sometimes God can come to us to convict us. The Holy Spirit comes to convict us. That's his role.

That's his job and more rebuking him. There's no condemnation for those who are walking according to the spirit. It's a beautiful verse, but again, and you know, I love the way this is set up in the sense that they didn't like check people at the door in these cities of refuge.

They didn't sit there and go, ah, no, no, no, wait a minute. Can't just rush in here now. We got to check out who you are or where you're from and all that.

Make sure you're good enough to get in here. That didn't happen. That didn't happen. Doesn't happen here, does it? We don't have people at the door going, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute now, buddy. Something about you doesn't look quite right.

Of course, we kind of got the opposite. You don't look quite right. You'll do. Come on in. You'll fit right in.

But it's sad that you realize some churches gauge people, measure people as people come in. Oh, that's a nice looking fellow. He's got it on tie.

He's a good, respectable man. He can come in. Come on in. We'll show you up front.

You sit up front. Wow, that's pretty twisted. You're listening to Pastor David McGee on Cross the Bridge. He'll be back with more powerful insight from God's Word in just a moment. But first, no matter how wise you are, listening to your own advice when you should be trusting God is dangerous. That's why we want to send you Pastor David McGee's CD series called Lessons from the Wilderness. Journey through one of the darkest times in King David's life and discover how you can wait confidently on God no matter what struggles you're facing because his plans are perfect and he always comes through for you. Lessons from the Wilderness is our thank you for your gift this month to share the hope of Christ with others.

So please visit for your copy of Lessons from the Wilderness. Now, back to today's message. You know, I used to be young and hip and cool and all that stuff and I'm just times getting away and I'm getting older. I'm getting older in the stuff that, you know, I mean, when I was growing up, it was really crazy for a guy to get his ear pierced. People get their ears pierced now. People get tattoos. People don't just get their ears pierced. They get their noses and all sorts of stuff. But you know what?

I'm not going to discount somebody because their lip is pierced or their tongue is pierced or their nose is pierced and say, well, you obviously don't love God. That's out of whack. That's not what we're supposed to be doing. So be careful.

Be careful with that one. And you know what? Since this is kind of a different sort of place, I mean, we kind of have the opposite problem. Some people, you know, a guy comes in with a tie, they think, that's a good man. Here, you know, somebody comes in with a tie and some of our people are going, ha ha, he's religious. Well, you know about you, Mr. Pharisee.

Be careful with that one. I mean, somebody can wear a tie and love the Lord here, man. And there are some people that do wear ties on Sunday morning and they're comfortable in a tie and we want to love them.

We don't want to judge them. John chapter 6 verse 37 says, all that the Father gives me will come to me and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out. Oh, it's a beautiful verse.

It's a beautiful verse to share with somebody when you're encouraging them to pray the prayer of salvation. Because I don't, I don't know if you remember before you prayed that prayer, I remember what I thought. Before I prayed that prayer, I thought, I don't know, this is going to work.

I mean, this might work for some people who are basically good people but, you know, I've done a lot of stuff and I don't know this is going to work. But it did. He forgave me. He didn't cast me out.

He didn't look at me and go, well, you just won't do. He received me. Isn't that a beautiful thing about Jesus? He receives people. He receives people and He changes them from what they were to who they can be. Hebrews chapter 7 verse 25 and all these kind of verses kind of tie back to the city of refuge.

Hebrews 7 25 says, therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them. Jesus is making intercession for you. He's pulling for you.

He's praying for you. Isn't that a beautiful picture? We're surrounded, it says, by a cloud of witnesses. I've got a print in my office. It's awesome.

There's a young guy holding the Bible preaching and around him are Gabriel and Michael and Moses and Joshua and Jesus cheering him on. Every time I can't stop and look at it without getting goosebumps. I think about a lot before I come out here surrounded by a cloud of witnesses and he's able to save to the uttermost.

Able to save. Do you understand what that means? Think of the person right now that you think there is no way. Yeah there is.

Yeah there is. There is a way. Even for that person you think that it's just not gonna happen. It can happen. Understand your pastor used to be somebody that others looked at and said there is no way.

There is no way. I was that troubled. You know I had had one of the my high school teachers say you know what the best thing that could happen to you is somebody to leave you dead in the ditch. At least it'd be over. Now I mean I have to say that was not without merit. I mean with the way I was living and the way I was conducting myself at that point. But what do you think those folks think now? You what?

You're doing what? I'm sorry I thought you said you were a pastor. There's no way. As a matter of fact one of the one of the people came through the home fellowship still comes here.

You know I went to school with her and I think they just came for a few times just you know just because she was amazed. There's just no way. That's just not him. There's somebody different.

It is somebody different. Amen. Now here's an important thing. Deuteronomy chapter 19 mentioned something about the city of refuge. It says then you must set apart three cities of refuge in the law in the land the Lord your God is giving you to occupy.

Divide the land the Lord your God has given you in the three districts and one of these cities in each district. Check out this last sentence. Keep the roads to these cities in good repair so that anyone who has killed someone can flee there for safety. Keep the road clear. Oh you know what I have thought about that so many times here. Keep the road clear. I thought about it when somebody came up to one of the ushers in the parking lot jeans and t-shirt and said can I go in here?

Yeah I was like yeah. He goes dress like this? He goes yeah yeah and and you know the guy must have looked at him with a question of face and he said well because see I went I tried to go to this other church that was down the road and they met me at the door and they said sir if you're gonna come in here you need to dress respectfully.

And he turned around he left. That's not keeping the road to the city of refuge clear. That's what we want to do here. We want to keep that road to the city of refuge clear. We don't want anything to get in the way. We don't want to do anything where somebody might not understand what's going on or what we're doing or why we're doing it.

Because then something's gotten away. And you know what there's already too many things in the way. Sin and guilt and pride and confusion and fear are already in the way. We don't need to set up more barricades so that people can't go into the city of refuge. Aren't you glad that when you wanted to go into the city of refuge the way was clear? Chapter 21 verse 1. Then the heads of the father's houses of the Levites came to Eliezer the priest to Joshua the son of Nun to the heads of the father's houses of the tribes of the children of Israel and they spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan saying the Lord commanded through Moses to give us cities to dwell in with their common lands for our livestock. So the children of Israel gave to the Levites from their inheritance at the commandment of the Lord these cities and their common lands. So the Levites ended up getting 48 cities to dwell in and none of them were more than ten miles apart. So at any point in that land you could quickly find a Levite if you needed to make an offering or sacrifice or you know hear the Word of God or or get a teaching or talk to him about something they were available.

Awesome. So verse 4. Now the lot came out for the families of the coethites and the children of Aaron the priest who were of the Levites at 13 cities by lot from the tribe of Judah from the tribe of Simeon and from the tribe of Benjamin. The rest of the children of coeth had ten cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Ephraim from the tribe of Dan and from the half tribe of Manasseh. And the children of Gershon had 13 cities by lot from the families of the tribe of Issachar from the tribe of Asher from the tribe of Naphtali and from the half tribe of Manasseh and Bashan.

Verse 7. The children of Moriah according to their families had 12 cities from the tribe of Reuben from the tribe of Gad and from the tribe of Zebulun. And what the children of Israel gave these cities with their common lands by lot to the Levites as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses. So there's Gershon, Moriah and Kohath. These are the patriarchs of the fathers of the Levites. And in order to serve the Lord you had to be a Levite.

We'll talk about that more in a second. But each of these families if you will are getting receiving these cities. So verse 9. So they gave from the tribe of the children of Judah and from the tribe of the children of Simeon these cities which are designated by name which were for the children of Aaron one of the families of the Kohathites who were of the children of Levi for the lot was theirs first. Now Aaron was a descendant of Kohath.

It was a descendant of the Kohathites. The Levites served in the tabernacle but to be a priest you had to be of the family of Aaron of the tribe of Levi. So God was very particular about who were priests and who worked in the tabernacle. Verse 11. And they gave them Kurjath Arba. Arba was the father of Anak which is Hebron in the mountains of Judah with the common land surrounding it. But the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephana as his possession.

Let me review for just a second make sure we're on the same page. To serve in the tabernacle you had to be of the tribe of Levi. If you were of another another one of the tribes you could not serve in the tabernacle. It did not matter if you wanted to.

It did not matter if you really thought God had told you to. You could not do it. And you couldn't become a priest if you weren't of the family of Aaron. Now can you imagine that?

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine wanting to serve here in children's ministry or something and and we have the servants app and we ask you to fill it out. We ask that you be saved. We ask that you be water baptized. If you're not one of those things we can certainly help you do one of those things.

We'd love to do that. But what if somewhere on that application what tribe are you from? And if you didn't fill out Levi I'm sorry you're out. Can't use you. Why? You're not a tribe of Levi. Can't do it. Well that's a bummer. Really wanted to serve.

Sorry can't do it. How bummed out would you be? We have not only been grafted in but actually been made Levites of a sort here. As a matter of fact the life lesson is we all have the opportunity and the responsibility to serve the local body of Christ. This is what we're supposed to be doing.

This is what this book talks about us doing. Now I understand that in many churches you know they run between like five and eight percent of the people that attend church there serve in a ministry. Five to eight percent. We've run between thirty and fifty percent of the people that come here serve in some form of ministry or another.

I think it should be even higher than that. Well you're not being very realistic. Oh sure I am. This book says we all have supernatural power. I believe it. I believe we all have the power to serve. See I don't talk about serving because we need help. Now I mean there's different ministries where in fact I mean they that we do need help. But do you understand what piece of the puzzle is kind of missing here about serving? That piece of the puzzle is when the pastor or children's ministry worker or somebody comes up. You know there's these real tearful appeals about how much somebody is needed in a minute.

Do you notice we don't do that here? You know why? Because I don't want you to serve because there's a need. I want you to serve because you understand that that's something a Christian who's been born again does. Friend do you know for sure that your sins have been forgiven?

You can know right now. I want to lead you in a short simple prayer simply telling God you're sorry and asking him to help you to live for him. Please pray this prayer with me out loud right now. Dear Jesus, I believe you died for me that I could be forgiven. And I believe you were raised from the dead that I could have a new life. And I've done wrong things. I have sinned and I'm sorry. Please forgive me of all those things. Please give me the power to live for you all of my days in Jesus name.

Amen. Friend if you prayed that prayer according to the Bible you've been forgiven. You've been born again.

So congratulations friend you just made the greatest decision that you will ever make. God bless you. If you prayed that prayer with David for the first time we'd love to hear from you. You can call us toll free at 877-458-5508 to receive our first steps package with helpful resources to help you begin your walk with Christ.

So many people look to their friends or within their own thoughts when faced with a problem. Even King David struggled with listening to his heart and not trusting in God's promises. Pastor David McGee wants to encourage you to wait confidently on God through whatever trial you're facing by sending you his CD series Lessons from the Wilderness. Lessons from the Wilderness is our thank you for your gift this month to share the hope of Christ with others. So please visit now for your copy of Lessons from the Wilderness.

You know each day comes with its share of stresses. So what better way to wake up than with an encouraging word from the Lord. Visit and sign up now for David McGee's email devotionals. Each devotion includes scripture and a message from the heart of David McGee. It's easy and it's free. Sign up today at And be sure to join us next time on Cross the Bridge as we continue in the book of Joshua. We'll see you then.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-17 00:21:12 / 2024-03-17 00:32:10 / 11

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