neighborhood policemen March 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Joshua 20:1–21:42; 1Chronicles 6:54-81; Joshua 21:43-45

Refuge and Direction

Animal refuges are set up to protect certain species from becoming extinct. Abused women and children flee to safe houses to receive protection from aggressors. Policemen are dispersed throughout cities and neighborhoods to bring control and safety to its citizens. In a similar way, God provided cities of refuge and dispersed priests throughout the land of Israel in 1400 B.C.

In today's Bible reading, cities of refuge are dispersed throughout the land of Israel. Three cities are in the tribes of Israel east of the Jordan River, in the northern, central, and southern areas of the land; and three cities are in the western tribes of Israel, in the northern, central, and southern areas of the land. These cities provide a place of safety where someone might flee if he accidentally kills someone. They protect him from the avenger of blood until his case is decided. These cities prevent needless bloodshed in the land. If it is decided the perpetrator is guilty of murder, the elders of the city must hand him over to the avenger to be executed. If he is innocent, however, he must remain in the city until the death of the high priest. Afterwards, the person can return to his home. The placement of sanctuary cities throughout Israel makes it accessible for everyone.

Along with leading in worship and taking care of the tabernacle and its services, the Levites provide direction for Israel in regards to the Law of God. The Levites are scattered throughout Israel. This was predicted by the Patriarch Jacob, for their complicit killing of all the men of the city of Shechem, because one Shechemite man had raped their sister (Genesis 49:5-7). Later in Israel's history, the Levites and Phinehas (a son of a high priest) stood on the side of the LORD against immorality. Because of this, God showed them some grace; although dispersed amongst the rest of the tribes, they will now be his ministers and priests (Exodus 32:26-29; Numbers 25:11-13).

God promised to provide the Levites towns and pastures throughout the land of Canaan (Numbers 35:2-8). Now God keeps his promise. In addition to some of the Levite towns being cities of refuge, their presence throughout Israel is intended to have a good moral influence on the rest of the Israelites. Since the Levites proclaim and teach the Law (Deuteronomy 17:9-11; 27:12-26), this should bring more law and order throughout the land. A typical Israelite has access to the Levites whenever he has questions about the Law. Unfortunately, we will later learn that the Levites do not carry out their responsibilities to teach the people. What about us? We who are Christians are scattered throughout our neighborhood, our towns and cities, and throughout the world—are we influencing our world for good? Are we available? Do people know they can come to us if they have some question about spiritual matters?

Where do we go when we need a refuge for our souls? Today, we do not need to go to a priest—we can look directly to God for help. By his Son Jesus Christ we can have forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). His Word, the Bible, gives us direction for living.

God is Faithful

God was faithful to keep his word to the Levites in giving them towns surrounded by pasturelands in Israel. He was faithful to the two and one-half tribes east of the Jordan who fought with the other Israelites for their inheritance. And, God was faithful to the rest of the tribes of Israel.

So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. (Joshua 21:45, NIV)

God keeps his promises. We may slip and falter in our faithfulness but God never does.

Lessons to Live By

  • God has dispersed Christians to be gospel lights in their communities and throughout the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
  • The LORD is a refuge for our souls (more...) and his Word, the Bible, gives us direction for living .
  • We need to be available and open to share Biblical counsel with our friends, family, neighbors, and even acquaintances. God may have put us there for that very purpose.
  • God keeps his promises. We may slip and falter in our faithfulness, but the LORD never does.

Focus Verse

Psalm 145:13b “The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.” (NIV)

Footnote: An avenger of blood is a close relative who avenges the blood of the deceased.

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A Look Ahead: In our Next Lesson are the Last Words of Joshua. We need to Pay Attention for we might learn something valuable from them.

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