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Refuge and Influence (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
November 9, 2020 6:00 am

Refuge and Influence (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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November 9, 2020 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the Book of Joshua (Joshua 20-21)

Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston
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John MacArthur
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R.C. Sproul
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Bob Jones University

Psalm 89 verse 14.

Righteousness and truth are the foundation of your throne. Mercy and truth go before your face. Mercy, no one deserves it. Mercy is not earned, it is given.

It is a gift of God. Mercy means you should be sent to hell, but I'm not going to. Grace means, in fact, I'm going to give you a gift. If you heaven, that's mercy and grace. If you heaven, that's mercy and grace. Mercy means you should be sent to hell, but I'm not going to give you a gift.

Mercy means you should be sent to hell, but I'm not going to give you a gift. So again, God makes a distinction. In degrees of guilt, there is the guilt of premeditated murder, for example, or just outright murder.

And then there is the tragedy of accidentally hitting someone with your car, getting someone killed on the job site. We are going to have to open this up a little bit more because it creates questions. But one of the things we get from this is that men are not to punish men until the inquiry has been satisfied. You see where he says, they shall, well, the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there, and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And as we get further down, we're going to find that they have to determine whether this was accident or not.

And that is a signal, of course, to us that these things have to be satisfied through due diligence. But also, the priests are going to be very much present through this process. That's why these are Levitical cities. These are not only the priests, but the servants of the Lord who have been given to the people of Israel. And the message in that, of course, is deliverance is not without the servants of the Lord. His appointed servants, you could say the anointed, those chosen by God to serve the assembly, to serve the congregation. It's a perpetual principle. It is here to this day, in ancient Israel, the nearest male relative, it was his duty to murder the killer and execute vengeance on them for this, which causes us to say, well, I thought vengeance was mine, says the Lord.

But before I get to that, I'll come back to it in a minute. It is interesting that this word for the avenger of blood, the word avenger, is the same Hebrew word we come across in the Book of Ruth for kinsmen. So it is the responsibility of that kinsman to execute a family justice for taking a man. You know, if you killed a man, a husband in those days, it was a critical blow to a family if they had small children.

Without the man worker in the field, things would really become difficult for that family. So this was a very big deal. Numbers 35 verse 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. So if you were guilty that you couldn't get out of it, you would be sentenced. God, of course, overruled that very commandment at times. One time is with David in King David's case. He murdered Uriah, and the prophet Daniel told David that God had forgiven him. The subsequent events demonstrated that indeed God did speak to Nathan the prophet, and the people knew that he was a prophet and would not dare challenge him. The consequence would have been too severe. But of course, Nathan said the child will die, but you will be forgiven, and you're going to have some other problems too. So these things, of course, they took place validating Nathan as he didn't need the validation, but the people knew this was God. My point is God did make exceptions.

The Avengers of Death would not be able to come and kill their king because their king had killed Uriah. Life gets sticky on certain levels. I mean, things just get very complicated. Not everything is as black and white as we would like it to be. And so often, God's people don't know that or behave as though that's not important, and they can make things worse. We have this special weapon in the church. It's called grace.

It's called undeserved kindness. It's not without wisdom. It is not without justice. It is a very serious thing.

It's very costly because it costs the blood of the Lamb, God the Son. So this kinsman, the protector of family rights, that is what it means. That's the problem that Boaz and Ruth were up against when Boaz said, well, there is a near kinsman than I. There is a family protector that is first in order before me, first in line, first position.

They had to go through him, and it worked out, of course. These demands on justice, these limitations, of course, are wise. Justice in Numbers 35 where the rule of the city of refuge is, the first 25 verses, there is justice there. But then when you get to verses 26 and 28, the revenge is permitted if the person doesn't make it to the city.

Did not give license to just murder indiscriminately. Deuteronomy 32 verse 25 needs to be read right at this point. Vengeance is mine and recompense. Their foot shall slip in due time for the day of their calamity is at hand and the things to come hasten upon them.

God says, I'm controlling this. But this provision in the civil law, one thing it did was act as a deterrent for carelessness. You'd think twice before you were reckless around other people and could harm someone because the avenger would come and get you, sort of a vigilante justice. That was part of the law. He'd be justified. God also recognized that at that time in history amongst the Jews, the forces of family honor was very powerful.

And instead of forbidding it, he contained it and he used it. We ask, are there any cases in the scripture where the avenger met up with the person who killed the family member? And yes, there is.

Abner and Joab. And I'll come to that in a little bit also. I've already caught up on some that I, if you're fact checking me, I've already fulfilled some of the promises. So verse four, and when he flees to one of those cities and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of the city, they shall take him into the city as one of them and give him a place that he may dwell among them. So there is the due diligence. He comes to the city. They determine, okay, he's innocent. This was not intentional.

He can come in the city and stay. The historians tell us that they would, if they did not have a trade, they would be given, taught a trade so that they could provide for themselves. But again, if they were guilty, they were executed or turned over to the avenger who would strike the first blow. Verse 20, 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. Deuteronomy 19 tells us that the Jews had to maintain these roads. They had to have roads just for this reason.

Deuteronomy 19, three, you shall prepare roads for yourself and divide into three parts the territory of your land which Yahweh your God is giving to you to inherit that any man slayer may flee there. So you had to, again, keep those roads open and the rabbis commented on this over the years and that the basis for my earlier statements about keeping these roads accessible to the cities of refuge. Of course, as road builders and road workers for the gospel, we are to keep the road open too.

We can close up the roads, we can stumble, we can become just carnal, so carnal, who wants to hear the gospel from us? Especially if you're in a workplace, say an office environment where you're just there year in, year out and the people are, you know, just the challenges that people bring being sinners. And if you're not careful, you can ruin your witness.

Well, you've put debris on the road that leads to refuge. Don't sell your witness short. Do not think that if you've worked in a particular place for years and no one has come to you to ask about Jesus Christ, it does not mean that they won't. It does not mean that you're failing. There'd be a lot of reasons why.

Just be ready for when the time comes. And true with some, some Christians enjoy quite a substantial amount of turnover and activity, see a lot of action when it comes to saving souls. I did as in the workplace, I'd like to think that because I studied so much the Bible, even before becoming a pastor, I would read it so much that I had the ammunition, I could engage. There was really no argument that I could not give a defense against coming from unbelievers. So God used me then, and I know therefore that he would use anybody if they're ready.

Well, why should it be a different way? Why should God use you to share the gospel if you are not able to articulate it? So this city of refuge deal is very good stuff for us to come across here in Joshua chapter 20. Christ is our care, and we are to care for lost souls, that it not be said by the lost soul, I am no one to care for me. Psalm 124, at a down point, the psalmist writes, look on my right hand and see, for there is no one who acknowledges me.

Refuge has failed me. No one cares for my soul. You take those words and you put them in the mouth of an unbeliever and it's a tragedy.

What is the antidote for that? Believers, spirit-filled. When I first became a Christian, I read those words of Paul, walk in the spirit that you give not into the temptations of the flesh. I thought it was going to just be an easy fit.

It was not, and it still is not. However, to give up and to abandon that and not pursue that walk in the spirit leaves you with nothing for that lost soul in need of care. Don't be too beat up by your shortcomings.

I mean, not at all. We can never be made comfortable in sin. But at the same time, Satan can use that against us to the point where he boils us down to nothing, because we've let him. So when he accuses us of being sinners and no good and rotten, we say, we know that. That's why Christ died for us, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin, and it is recurrent.

Just like the blood that flows through your body is a process that's constant, so is the salvation of the Lord. You know, the legalists just kill this part of our faith. We have freedoms that we should exercise if we're going to be effective in Christ.

Not give you as a cloak for evil, just that focus on the bigger pictures. God's people never put the Canaanites completely out the land, and God never threw the people out because of that. They were cast out of the land because of their idolatrous practices. They did other crimes, and they neglected the Sabbath. God did not chuck them out of the land for that. He brought it back up, and he penalized them with their time and captivity for it. But the reason why was that they went towards other gods and the perversities that always go with false ideas about God. What an encouragement for us. What did he say to the woman Jesus?

Go and sin no more. But what about those men? Because he called them out. He could have slayed them right there. He just, when he said, the one without sin, throw the first stone, he knew all their sins. And he doesn't, even those men, those hard, mean men, he did not humiliate them.

What does that say to us? What would happen if David never sinned? He was a warrior. He was a poet. He was this great man of God.

He'd be an overwhelming figure. Well, the cities of refuge, we find it mentioned in Hebrews. And as a reminder, the letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians to tell them to stop acting as though they were Hebrews and not Christians. And in this letter, he of course ties in all that he points to Jesus Christ. He says, thus God determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise, the unchangeableness of his counsel, confirmed it with an oath.

God says, I'm going to show you. I don't budge. I'm making an oath. My word is it. I'm not going to back off my word. And he continues that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation.

You see what I was talking about a minute ago? Strong consolation that the blood of Jesus Christ. Satan has no agent to destroy the work of Jesus Christ.

The individual can reject it. But what fool would do that? Heaven's going to be loaded with people who receive the grace of Jesus Christ. He continues this strong consolation. That would be a good license plate, you know.

You couldn't get the words on, so you'd have to widen the license plate. All right. Anyway, strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. You see the picture he is doing? He must have been in his devotions that day or that week. He must have been somewhere in Joshua or Numbers.

And because it really doesn't show up again in the Bible, except here in Hebrews. And he says, you flee to Jesus Christ. You've got the strong consolation. He is the hope set before you get to that city. And when you get there, you're safe forever. And then he says, this hope we have as an anchor of the soul. There's an inconsistency there. All of a sudden now he's at C. He's got anchors going.

All right. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the presence behind the veil. That's him, the presence, the presence of Jesus Christ, the Shekinah. And the New Testament, the translators usually take that word presence from the Greek, and they translated the coming of Jesus Christ. And it's not incorrect, but it is the presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus having become high priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.

So there's the high priest in part of this picture. Because when you fled to the city, you were stuck there until the high priest died. Then you were free to leave.

Legally, they could not touch you after that. So the avenger of blood speaks of God's intolerance for sin. You killed.

Regardless of your motive, you killed. Blood was shed. Genesis chapter 9. Surely for your life blood, I will demand a reckoning. From the hand of every beast, I will require it. And from the hand of man, from the hand of every man's brother, I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed. For in the image of God, he made man. So God is laying down the intention.

Of course there are all sorts of, you know, change of things floating around this, but essentially it sticks. The blood is the life of the animal. You shall not eat the blood. The city of refuge speaks of God's mercy. Proverbs chapter 16. In mercy and truth, atonement is provided for iniquity. And by the fear of the Lord, one departs from evil. Okay, so you stopped doing evil, but that's not enough. You can't undo the evil you did.

What happens to that, that debt? The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. The psalmist said, my strength fails because of my iniquity. And God says, I'll deal with that iniquity in my people. It will go away.

I will wash it away. So together, this intolerance of sin, and this city of refuge, which is mercy, speak of justification. The right thing. God doing the right thing.

Because he says it's right. Psalm 89, verse 14. Righteousness and truth are the foundation of your throne. Mercy and truth go before your face. Mercy, no one deserves it. Mercy is not earned, it is given.

It is a gift of God. Mercy means you should be sent to hell, but I'm not going to. Grace means, in fact, I'm going to give you heaven. That's mercy and grace.

So tied together, inseparable. John 1 16. And of his fullness we have received grace for grace. Heaps and heaps of grace.

Undeserved kindness piled atop of undeserved kindness. It is the most magnificent faith on earth. There's nothing like this in any other religion on the planet. Every other one, you have to do something to try to find what tickles God. What he likes.

We're told what he likes and dislikes. We are told right out in scripture often the things that God hates. But even that, you know, God hates the one that sows seeds of discord amongst brethren, troublemaker.

He hates it. But that troublemaker can find grace. It's not the whole story. Verse 6. 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. It's, um, I mean, what if you kill the guy and the next day the high priest dies? We only have a day.

I'll just be here for the night. So the high priest is directly associated with refuge and restoration. And that's what was being said in Hebrews chapter 6. I just read from a moment ago that strong consolation in the high priest behind the veil, our Jesus Christ, not according to the Aaronic line but according to Melchizedek's line, a superior priesthood.

Because justice is a spiritual matter, that's why God has to be very much a part of it and his priest is the representative, his deputy. When the high priest died, man was free. Well, when did our high priest die? He died on Calvary at the cross, Golgotha. That's where he died. And he rose again.

And so he lives. Hebrews chapter 3, therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Christ Jesus. If it weren't for the whole humility thing, we could just strut around. We could just, you know... Incidentally, I think pulpits serve a purpose for pastors. They keep us from strutting when we get high-minded of ourselves. When I see a pastor leave the pulpit, Oh, where are you going? I don't want to see what pants you're wearing. Just get behind the pul... Oh, sorry. That's off on my own thing again. All right, well... And what's with the acrylic ones? What's that?

I have stories, but I can't tell them. Verse 7, but I can't tease you with them because that's what sample clause does. Verse 7, so they appointed Kadesh and Galilee in the mountains of Neftali, Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and Kirjath Arba, which is Hebron, in the mountains of Judah. God, in verse 2, said, pick the cities.

And they did, and they did a good job at this. There was a lot, allotments went by lot, by casting of lot, by God being involved. Shechem is a significant place to the Jewish person in their Bibles, if they are a Bible student.

And it should be significant. A lot of things took place there. Abraham built his first altar to the Lord in Shechem.

And I may have built others, but that's the one that's recorded. Isaac is said to have dug a well in Shechem. And Brooklyn and Nevada, he dug wells everywhere. It started with, you know, can you dig it? That was Isaac.

He started that. Jacob built an altar in Shechem. Jacob bought a parcel of land in Shechem. Now if this is your heritage, this is significant to you. I mean, this is more than, you know, what we get, what we used to get, that we chopped down, George Washington chopped down a cherry tree. It's the beginning of our, you know, our cultural heritage. Thanks for tuning in to Cross Reference Radio for this study in the book of Joshua. Cross Reference is the teaching ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel, Mechanicsville in Virginia. If you're interested in more information about this ministry, please visit our website,

You'll find additional teachings from Pastor Rick available there. We also encourage you to subscribe to our podcast. By doing so, you'll be notified of each new edition of Cross Reference Radio. Just search for Cross Reference Radio in iTunes, Google Play Music, or your favorite podcast app. You can also follow the links at We're glad we were able to spend time with you today. Tune in next time to continue learning from the book of Joshua, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-29 06:20:16 / 2024-01-29 06:29:27 / 9

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