Read Numbers 35
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Scripture- Numbers 35:11-13a- Designate cities of refuge to which people can flee if they have killed someone accidentally. These cities will be places of protection from a dead person’s relatives who want to avenge the death. The slayer must not be put to death before being tried by the community. Designate six cities of refuge for yourselves.
Observations- The Levites, the clergy of ancient Israel, were put in charge of the cities of refuge, because they would have been considered the best third party, neutral observers to all kinds of conflict. 3400 years ago revenge was written into the standard code of conduct in most cultures, but Israel had strict limits about revenge. “An eye for an eye,” for example, was originally a graceful limit; that is, the tendency would have been “make me blind in one eye and I’ll make sure you can’t see out of either eye,” or “you kill my brother and I’ll kill your entire family.” The cities of refuge served the purpose of preventing indiscriminate revenge and the opportunity for justice.
Application- Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-42): “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.” Here Jesus is inviting all those who want to follow Him to live into an even higher standard. When we are personally offended or hurt, revenge can no longer be our default position. Frankly, I can't do this in my own strength. I need the inspiration and the fire of the Holy Spirit to come anywhere close to fulfilling Jesus' desire for me in this area. How can you choose- with God's help- to “turn the other cheek” in your life today?
Prayer- Dear God, it's both comforting and confronting that Jesus wants so much more for me than I want for myself. Turning the other cheek is hard. Help us be a part of what You’re up to in the world through Jesus Christ as we seek to be His hands, feet, and voice in a world that often values revenge. Help us extend grace and mercy in ways that go far beyond “an eye for an eye.” Don’t let the negativity of revenge or bitterness gain a stronghold in my heart! Give me Your wisdom and strength to live into the truths Christ has for me today. Amen.
"The godly will rejoice in the Lord and find shelter in Him. And those who do what is right will praise him." (Psalm 64:10),
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