The Cities of Refuge: A Portrait of Christ
We might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
-Hebrews 6:18b, emphasis added
The similarities between the cities of refuge and Christ our refuge are striking when compared point for point. Anyone can come to Christ because:
- Christ is easy to reach. We may cast ourselves upon Christ at any time, in any place. His church is to be the teller of this good news that cries "Refuge! Refuge!" to the lost world. This emphasis is made at the very end of Revelation: Let him who thirsts come (Revelation 22:17). The Savior is within the reach of all, even to those who are in the utmost peril of His wrath.
- Christ is open to all people. Anyone who wants to may come to Him: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28; see also Genesis 3:9 and Isaiah 45:22).
- Christ's arms are always open-He never locks His gates. Jesus is "the door" (John 10:7, John 10:9), and that door is never shut. Many have stood by a deathbed and seen sinners come to belief in the last moments of life. There is no gate to unlock, and men can enter quickly. The way to the heavenly city of refuge is clear, and Christ will never turn any sinner away (John 6:37). Just as prominent roads led to each city of refuge, and their gates were always open, so Christ's gate is always open to whoever will come to Him.
- Christ is a completely sufficient refuge."Christ's death in space-time history is completely adequate to meet our need for refuge from the true moral guilt that we have. It is final because of who He is. He is the infinite second person of the Trinity; therefore, His death has infinite value. Just as the suburbs or borders of the city [of refuge] were a sufficient security to the offender (Numbers 35:26-27)-so there is virtue even in the hem of Christ's garment for the healing and saving of poor sinners. If we cannot reach to a full assurance, we may comfort ourselves in a good hope through grace."
- Christ is our only hope. If we do not flee to the refuge, which God has given to us at such a great price, there is no other hope for us. Hebrews relates this negative emphasis to the Old Testament: Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment ... will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:28-29).
The IVP Bible Commentary puts it well:
There isn't one of us who does not stand in that situation. We have heard the gospel, so if in the Old Testament ignoring God's law brought death, what about us if we despise the work of Christ and the grace which He showers upon us? Nor can lost sinners today afford to delay in fleeing to the only refuge, Jesus Christ.
Today, meditate upon these soul-gripping truths: Christ is easy to reach; His arms are open to all; His entrance is never locked; He is a completely sufficient refuge; and He is the only hope! How wonderful!
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