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Joshua Chapter 20:1-9

Cross the Bridge / David McGee
The Truth Network Radio
March 16, 2024 1:00 am

Joshua Chapter 20:1-9

Cross the Bridge / David McGee

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March 16, 2024 1:00 am

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People ask, well, you know, I don't know if I should be going to church right now because I'm, fill in the blank, struggling with alcohol. I don't know if I should be going to church right now because I still smoke dope or I still use profanity or fill in the blank. And I'm not condoning sin. Don't mistake what I'm saying, friend.

But you know what? This is the very place you should be. Welcome to Cross the Bridge with David Magee. 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 Magee'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 Magee 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, The Lord also spoke to Joshua, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint for yourself cities of refuge of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there, and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.

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 that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them, and give him a place that he may dwell among them. So we see that whenever somebody accidentally or unintentionally killed somebody, they could go to this place, because what would happen is at the death of someone, the next of kin or a loved one or a family member or whatever would want to avenge that death and blood, and they would seek the life of the other person. So obviously, in that moment, they might not be thinking clearly about whether it was an accident or not, and they might take the life when it was an accident. So we see that the Word of God separates an accidental death and a premeditated murder. Now, I want you to understand something else, too, that in the Ten Commandments, when it says, Thou shalt not kill, a lot of people say, well, God says, Thou shalt not kill, and then he has these people at war with one another.

How can that be? And this is one thing that some people say, see, there's a contradiction. There's not a contradiction. That word in the Ten Commandments, the Hebrew word means murder. Thou shalt not murder.

And war and battles were never considered murder, because it's a cause against another one. It's not just, hey, I want this guy's land. I want his car.

I want his house or something or his wallet, and I'm going to kill him sort of thing. It was a battle that was going on. So that was not murder. So remember that Thou shalt not murder is what that says. But it's interesting, this whole concept, the city of refuge, and it's important for us to understand, because it talks about guilty people fleeing and needing the protection of the people of the Lord. And there's a wonderful modern day application, because see, I think there's two pictures here. There's one picture here of the fact that I believe the church is supposed to be a city of refuge, the body of Christ, where the guilty can come in and be protected.

Now, this is interesting, because you know what? In some situations, our churches aren't that. It's almost like our churches are places that assign guilt as people come in.

It's been aptly said that the Christian army is the only army in the world that shoots its wounded. And sadly, that's true all too often. And often, if you can picture an accident, and I love this analogy that Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa uses. If you can picture an accident, and the accident happens, and one of the first people on the scene, and it's a necessary thing, is a policeman, right?

Now the policeman is there for what? He's there to figure out who was right, who was wrong, and making sure that the person who was wrong gets properly rebuked or punished, right? You know, a lot of people think that's the role of the church. That's not the role of the church.

That's not what I see in the Bible as the role of the church. See, because what happens is, shortly after that, police officer, maybe at the same time, sometimes before, what happens is the emergency medical technician gets there. Now the emergency medical technician, he's not there to figure out who did what. He's not there to figure out who hit who and who was running the stoplight and who was going too fast.

He's there to help the wounded. You understand that's more of a picture of the church than the policeman? But all too often, what do we do? Well, let's figure out who's right and who's wrong, and let's punish that wrongdoer.

You know what? That's not our job as described in scripture. Now you know, I'd like to even add something to Pastor Chuck's analogy.

It's kind of like we're EMTs and we're driving school instructors. Now that's a picture of the church. So we help them with their wounding, and they help them get over their hurts, but then we say, okay, you know, if when you drive and you're turning left, you actually pull down that turn signal, you know, you'll get in a lot less accidents. Now that is a picture of the church, isn't it? Because sometimes people come in and their lives are messed up and they're hurting, and we get the joy of saying, you know what, we're not concerned with who's fault it is really because we're all guilty before the Lord.

But what we want to do is care for you, address your wounds, and try to instruct you so you don't find yourself back in the same place one year, two years, ten years from now. See, that's a picture, I believe, of what the church should be. A place of refuge, a place of hope, a place of understanding, a place of love, certainly a place of truth.

There's balance to what I'm saying, but people can know that we're being real with them. That first life lesson is the church is to be a city of refuge. The church is to be a city of refuge. You know, some people, it's interesting what some people think of church and, you know, people ask, well, you know, I don't know if I should be going to church right now because I'm fill in the blank. I don't know if I should be going to church right now because I'm struggling with alcohol. I don't know if I should be going to church right now because I still smoke dope or I still use profanity or fill in the blank. And I'm not condoning sin. Don't mistake what I'm saying, friend. But you know what?

This is the very place you should be if those things are going on. See, because we have this whole, and I know the whole just say no thing, you know what? That never worked for me.

You know, I just, you know, wound up usually just saying moe instead of no, but got confused about the whole thing. But what happened was as I walked with the Lord and the Lord filled me, I no longer had any use for any of that. And see, it wasn't that somebody had to go, you're quite doing that.

It was that, you know what? That is a cheap substitute for what the Lord wants to give me. There's no high like the most high, amen. And so the Lord wants to take us and he wants to, he wants this place to be a city of refuge, not to be the last place in the world somebody with problems would come.

How it's gotten twisted. Oh, I can't go to church. Well, why not? Because, you know, people look down on me and they'll, you know, they'll think, well, I don't deserve to be there and how can I worship God? Man, none of us deserve to be here. None of us deserve to be able to lift our voices to the heavens or raise our hands, but you know what? God is a merciful God.

And so through his mercy, we can come into this place and worship God. And you know what? Friend, if you're struggling with any of those things, know something. There's many of us here who have struggled with those things and we've now been set free.

So don't believe the lie of the enemy that says, well, you know, you're always going to struggle with those things. There's no hope for you. No, there's hope for you.

There's hope for you and you got people sitting around you that are proof that there's hope for you. As a matter of fact, you know, occasionally now and again, some of the small groups or fellowship groups, you know, they get together and they share their testimony and it's always a real interesting time because sometimes you're just like, wow, they, I thought they were normal or something, you know. But we've, we've all been through all these battles and this is the place to run to the place to be that place of refuge because really, I mean, if we're going to keep the guilty people out, who can come in?

None of us can be here. But praise God through his mercy and through his grace, we can all come into this place and experience the love of God and experience the fellowship. And you know what? That's, that's what we need to be sharing with people. I mean, and I understand, again, there's a time for the church to proclaim truth and I'm not ever going to back away from the truth. I'm just saying there's times when you should be salt and there's times when you should be oil and don't get the two confused because if somebody comes in, they're hurting and they know that their life is trashed and messed up and they have all these wounds, don't pour salt on those wounds.

They need oil. Now, certainly if somebody comes up and they think they're okay and everything's hunky dory and every, they think everything's fine and their life is trashed, then whoop out the salt, you know, and say, look, man, you need to realize you have trashed your life and you need to change, you know, but salt, oil, make sure you're using the right one. Amen. 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. Verse 5. 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. This is interesting. He stayed there in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest and when the high priest died, then he was released and set free to go back to wherever he came from.

Why is that interesting? What present day application might that have? Well, Hebrews chapter 9 verse 11 says, but Christ came as high priest of the good things to come. With the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is not of this creation, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood he entered the most holy place once and for all having obtained eternal redemption.

See, there is the picture in the New Testament that Jesus Christ is our high priest and he is the only priest that we need to have a relationship with God. Jesus Christ died and we can be set free from our sins. Now the real question for each and every person and you have to answer this in the quietness of your house is have you been set free? Have you gone to that place, that city of refuge that the Lord offers you and experienced the forgiveness of your sins? See so many of us were taught for so long that you try to be the best that you can. You hope your good outweighs your bad and at the end of your life if your good outweighs your bad then you get to heaven. We heard that over and over, years and years.

I believed it. Later in life I was shocked to find out those concepts are not biblical. They're not biblical at all. You see, the matter of the fact is none of us deserve grace, none of us deserve forgiveness. It's not a matter of our good outweighing our bad, it's a matter of our bad will always outweigh our good.

So we need somebody to tip the scales if you will. And Jesus is willing to do that if you ask him. But the question is, have you asked him?

Have you asked him? You see, I can't ask him for you, well I can lead you in the prayer, but I can't ask him for you. I can't ask him for my children or for my parents or for my relatives, oh I wish I could. I wish I could. I wish I could just touch people and say, Lord forgive you.

That would be awesome because I would just probably like hang out at the mall all day long. Lord forgive you, Lord forgive you, Lord forgive you. Yeah, well I mean until he, until he kicked me out or whatever, you know. But you know, it'd be a great way to get people saved, right? But it doesn't work like that. You see, you have to ask the Lord to forgive you of your sins.

It has to be personal. You have to enter into that place and have you done that? And friend, if you've done that, let me take that one step further. If you've done that, have you been set free? You may say, well but Pastor Davey, I don't understand. If I ask for forgiveness, haven't I been set free?

Let me be honest with you. I've known people that have asked for forgiveness and the Lord has forgiven them, but they've not been set free. You know why? Because they allowed themselves to be trapped under an avalanche of guilt and shame.

And they're walking almost in the same bondage. Why? Because they haven't realized they've been forgiven. You see, until you realize in your head and in your heart that you've been forgiven, it's kind of hard to celebrate that, isn't it?

And I've known so many people that were just trapped in that pain and that guilt. Now understand, I am not saying right now that, you know, if you're doing something, if you're engaged in something that's sin, you need to ask the Lord to forgive you and quit doing that thing. I'm not talking about conviction, okay?

There's a difference between guilt and conviction. Guilt drives you away from God and shame. Conviction draws you towards God for forgiveness.

Now, but what I'm talking about is sometimes we do stuff that we're ashamed of. We do things that are wrong and we say, Lord, forgive me. And the Lord dies. But then we go back to the next day, Lord, I really need you to forgive me of that one thing. And the Lord's like, what are you talking about? Because he doesn't remember. He forgives so completely that the word says he cast it into the sea of forgetfulness.

And isn't that amazing? I wish I could do that. I can't.

I can't. You know, when my kids and we have some to do and stuff and, you know, and I come back to them and say, I'm sorry, I was wrong and, um, which is something a father should do when he messes up or, you know, they don't forget it, you know, they remember it like four years later. Hey, remember that time you did this huge, you know, or, and vice versa, you know, they ask forgiveness. I remember God doesn't remember. So friend, why are you carrying that guilt around? Why are you carrying the guilt around?

Why are you suffering under the penalty of the accuser like that when Jesus died to forgive you? See, sometimes we can think it's really religious to carry that baggage around, can't we? We can think, oh, I feel bad, so I'm very spiritual.

You know, that has nothing to do with the Bible. So, you know, sometimes we come into church, you realize that, and I don't know if you were like this, but for years and years, I kind of gauged the service on how bad I felt when I left. I was good.

Good service. I feel horrible. Now there are times when, you know, you may feel very convicted here. We had one a couple of weeks ago, you know, and I was, I'm always shocked people come back, but don't gauge your spirituality on that, because that can be a trap, because you know what, then when you do something wrong, as long as you feel bad about it, you think you're okay. Well, I did this, but I feel bad about it, so I'm okay. No, wait a minute. Come to the Lord for forgiveness, 1 John 9 and 10, that's the Christian's bar of soap.

That's how you get cleaned up. Confess your sins, and they'll cleanse you from all unrighteousness, but don't stay shackled with your guilt. John chapter 10 verse 10 says, the thief cometh not, but to steal and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. That's what he came to give us. Are you experiencing that abundant life?

If you've asked the Lord to forgive you of your sins, and you are not experiencing that abundant life, perhaps might it be because you're carrying your guilt around as some sort of weird trophy? Oh, man, God's got a much better plan for you than that. Put the baggage down. The baggage can weigh you down. It can lead to anger and depression and all these horrible things that God doesn't intend you to go through, but because we're carrying the baggage, we go through them.

We go through those things. The Lord's like, put the suitcase down, and we begin to, we're carrying it like a badge on it. Look, I got my suitcase. This is my guilt.

I feel bad about all this stuff. God's like, put it down. Yeah, but it's my suitcase. No, put it down.

Yeah, it's my suitcase. I feel good about feeling bad. God, as we do that, the question is, are you doing that? You ever ask the Lord more than once to forgive you of the same thing? That's an example of struggling with us. This is an example of struggling with us because you're carrying guilt. Do you understand that some of that, and I'm not going to say all of that because I don't know the different circumstances, but do you understand that some of that is the enemy messing with you, telling you, whispering in your, oh, he didn't forgive you. He knows you didn't mean that prayer. He's not forgiven you.

He's still mad about it. That's the enemy. And you know what?

If you listen to that long enough, friend, you're going to wind up in a place you don't want to be. Receive the forgiveness from the Lord. Receive it and have that abundant life. Amen.

Some of you really, really need to take that to heart. Verse seven, 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, 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 were 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 in 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, you know that's got to be true. That's got to 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? Be careful, be careful. Hebrews chapter 6 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 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. 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 / 2024-03-16 00:33:58 / 2024-03-16 00:45:30 / 12

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