The Bible says in Numbers 35:1-8, And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them. And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts. And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about. And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities. And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities. So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs. And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth. Once again God reminds the children of Israel through Moses that the Levites should be taken care of. The Levites were not given large plots of land like the rest of the children of Israel. That is because the Levites would be responsible for the religious services, and they would not have time to work the land. The Levites would take care of the tabernacle, and the ark, and would organize the Sabbath feast days and the weekly Sabbath days. And the Levites would perform all the sacrificing of animals. In the age of the church that same situation is represented by pastors and missionaries and the normal way that their material needs would be met: through the financial gifts and support of the rest of the Christians in the congregations. Quoting from Deuteronomy 25:4, it says in First Corinthians 9:9, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Of course, we live in difficult times. Some churches are very small and the congregation may not be able to give that kind of support. Other churches might have a lot of unspiritual people in them who have not grown in the Lord enough to have a generous heart. In todays world many preachers may need to be able to provide their own support by working a secular job to support their families. A preacher who has worked a secular job most of his life and then starts pastoring might be in a very good position materially speaking to take on a preaching and pastoring responsibility in one of these types of situations. The Apostle Paul worked as a tent-maker for several years because of the situation that he was in in Corinth and in Ephesus.
The Bible says in Numbers 35:9-15, And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge. Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither. The cities of refuge show us that God wanted Israel to be a nation of laws. God wanted to make sure that there was no mob rule that would get a foothold. When someone in the community is killed, the relatives of the deceased might want revenge before all the facts are known. God is making it very clear that there should not be a rush to judgment. This law would hold for everyone in Israel: for citizens and visitors alike. It also shows that being innocent until proven guilty was a very important standard to uphold.
But the cities of refuge were not provided for murderers. Murderers were put to death as soon as it was known that they were guilty. They did not wait twenty years to put someone to death if they were a murderer. The Bible says in Numbers 35:16-21, And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die; Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.
Basically the following verses say that care should be taken to understand the cause of death. There are accidents that take place. There are mistakes that people make where they are not trying to cause someones death, but someone dies. That is not murder. Motive has a lot to do with it. The Bible says in Numbers 35:22-25, But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait, Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm: Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments: And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil. Anyone who killed someone by accident is allowed to reside in a city of refuge, and now one is allowed to take revenge on them. In the modern world things get even more complicated because there are many situations where people cause death even though they were not trying to do so, but their behavior was so irresponsible that something must be done. Perhaps the greatest example of that is when a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and gets behind the wheel of a vehicle and causes death. They must be punished because they could have done one of two things and the other people would still be alive or would not have suffered some horrendous injuries: 1. Make the decision to not take alcohol or drugs. 2. Not getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
The Bible says in Numbers 35:26-29, But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood: Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession. So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings. These verses seem to acknowledge the fact that some people are carried along by emotion and the desire for revenge. Human nature must be understood. Our society does not understand this well enough especially in regards to not giving harsh enough punishments to murderers. Once someone is found guilty it is a miscarriage of justice to not deliver a just punishment in a timely manner. When anyone is killed even in an accident, a terrible thing has happened.
The Bible says in Numbers 35:30-34, Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest. So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel. The Old Testament is known for its harsh punishments, but the death penalty for murder is not one of them. Actually, these rules on the death penalty are also an expression of respect for life. First the innocent victim is considered. If someone was murdered, then the murderer must be given the death penalty. But before the death penalty is given, great care must be taken before the accused is found guilty. One good eye witness to the murder is not enough. If you only have one good eye witness, then the accused is allowed to go free. There must be at least two good witnesses. Life is so precious, no innocent person should ever be killed by the hand of man. God gives a very clear warning in verses thirty-three and thirty-four: You will be doing great damage to your own country if you fail to give the death penalty for murder. It says in verse thirty-three, So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.
The Bible says in Numbers 36:1-12, And the chief fathers of the families of the children of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came near, and spake before Moses, and before the princes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel: And they said, The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel: and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother unto his daughters. And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance. And when the jubile of the children of Israel shall be, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers. And Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, The tribe of the sons of Joseph hath said well. This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry. So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers. Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance. Even as the LORD commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad: For Mahlal, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their father's brothers' sons: And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father. Of course, these verses tell us that it was important to God that each family of the children of Israel retained their inheritance and did not lose it through marriage such as the case of a family with only daughters. This means that the outlay of the land of Canaan God wanted to be permanent. God gave the land to the Israelites, and God wanted them to keep the land that He gave to them also. It all has to do with a promise that God made to Abraham about that land. And guess what: God always keeps His promises. That land belongs to the children of Israel, and it always will.
The Bible says in Numbers 36:13, These are the commandments and the judgments, which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho. God gave commandments to Moses and Moses wrote down all that God wanted Moses to write. That is Gods method of communicating His truth to mankind: use certain individuals who were close to God to write down His Word. It makes sense that God would do that. Why would God give His truth to one generation, but then have that truth changed by word-of-mouth errors or even lost entirely? By given written scriptures, each generation can read those scriptures and find out for themselves the exact truth from God. It says in Second Timothy 2:16, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: God gave His Word, and of course, God has preserved His Word. It would not do any good for God to give His Word, but then not preserve it for all generations. It says in Psalms 100:5, For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting: and his truth endureth to all generations. Jesus said, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. That is the doctrine of preservation. He not only gave His Word, but He also preserved it without error.
Copyright; 2019 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
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