City of Refuge

Joshua 20: 1-9

In the preceding chapters we see a record of the conquests of the Land, and then how it was divided among the 12 tribes of Israel. The job was not finished, as seems to always be the case: once the tribes had their space they settled and got on with life. Not all the land was taken, which later came back to bite Israel on many occasions.
And then there is this bit about cities of refuge. In Old Testament Law, if you killed someone, on purpose or not, then you could be killed as an act of payment: a life for a life.
However, if you were innocent, you could flee to any of a number of cities where you would be safe from revenge: these were the cities of refuge.
In acts 2, Peter speaks passionately to the Israelite gathered in Jerusalem, explaining from old testament prophesy who Jesus was. At the end of his speech he said:
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
If the city was your only hope of life, you would run to it, right?
In Revelations 21 the scripture talks about the Holy City:
23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
Go and read more, its inspiring. I guess all these ideas came together in this song; the idea of us being responsible for the death of Christ, and of how you respond to that, of finding hope, redemption, new birth in Christ Jesus, of refusing to give up until you’re in! Also dealing with your own fears, reluctance, apathy, whatever it is that gets in between you and Christ. Run to the City!


I killed a man
Blood on my hands
You wash it all away
Can’t seem to find
my peace of mind
This is no place to stay
 
So I ran to the city and stood at the gate
Call out my Father Won’t you give me a place
In the city of refuge, when anger pursues me
I will not surrender the one I accuse
So I ran to the City and I stood at the gate
And I cried to my Lover won’t you give me a place
In the city of refuge I’ll pay for my crime
But I don’t want to die here, this is not my time
No it’s just not my time….
 
Nobody’s Son
Oh the things I have done
It makes no sense to me
There’ll be no pain
You wash off my shame
You wipe my tears away
My tears away
 
So I ran to the city and stood at the gate
I cried to my sister Won’t you give me a place
In the city of refuge I will stand accused
But I will not surrender The love I abuse
SO I ran to the city and I stood at the gate
And I cried to my brother Won’t you give me a place
In the City of Refuge I’ll pay for my crime
But I don’t want to die here, it’s just not my time
Just not my time
 
 
Just how long will I wait here
Before I begin to take
Possession of this place
That was given to me
(New Jerusalem)
 
So I ran to the city and stood at the gate
Call out my Father Won’t you give me a place
In the city of refuge, when mercy pursues me
I will not surrender the one I accuse
So I ran to the City and I stood at the gate
And I cried to my Lover won’t you give me a place
In the city of refuge I’ll pay for my crime
But I don’t want to die here, this is not my time
No it’s just not my time….

R Packham2019