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In March 2014 a tribal conflict broke out in my hometown area, forcing my father’s household, along with other refugees, to take cover in the region’s capital city. Throughout history, people who have felt unsafe in their homelands have traveled to other places searching for safety and something better.
As I visited and talked with people from my hometown, I thought of the cities of refuge in Joshua 20:1-9. These were cities designated as places of safety for those fleeing from “relatives seeking revenge” in the case of an accidental killing (v. 3 nlt). They offered peace and protection.
People today still seek places of refuge, although for a variety of reasons. But as needed as these sanctuaries are, supplying shelter and food, they cannot completely meet the needs of refugees and fugitives. That rest is found only in God. Those who walk with God find true shelter and the safest protection in Him. When ancient Israel was sent into exile, the Lord said, “I have been a sanctuary [safe haven] for them in the countries where they have gone” (Ezek. 11:16).
With the psalmist, we can say confidently to the Lord, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (32:7).
Father, thank You for being a rock to which we can flee and that no matter where we are or in what circumstances we find ourselves, You are there with us. Help us to remember that even in the darkest of nights, You are our strong tower.
Nothing can shake those who are secure in God’s hands.
In the law of Moses premeditated murder was punishable by death but accidental killing was not (Ex. 21:12–14). It was common for the nearest relative to avenge the dead person. Six Levitical towns (Num. 35:6–34; Deut. 4:41–43; 19:1–13) were designated “cities of refuge” so that anyone who killed a person accidentally could flee there for protection (Josh. 20:2–3; see Num. 35:12).