Life-Study of Numbersby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Before we consider chapter thirty-six of Numbers, I would like to say a further word on two matters concerning the refuge cities in chapter thirty-five.
First, according to 35:25b-29, the rescued killer was to remain in the city of refuge and live in it until the death of the high priest, who signifies Christ, who died for our sins. Since we, the believers in Christ, have God's direct salvation, how should we apply the type of remaining in the refuge city until the death of the high priest? In the Old Testament time, Christ had not yet died, and those who fled into Him as their refuge had to wait there until He came and died on the cross. For the Old Testament saints, therefore, the refuge was like the sheepfold in John 10:1, which signifies the law, or Judaism as the religion of the law, in which God's chosen people were kept and guarded in custody and ward until Christ came.
Since the Old Testament age is over, do we today still have a city of refuge, or do we only have God's direct salvation? I would like to answer this question in relation to the assurance of salvation. As far as the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of salvation are concerned, many believers are still in the Old Testament. They seem to be waiting for this assurance to be given some time in the future. For example, if you ask such a believer if his sins have been forgiven, he might say, "I do not know. I have fled into Christ and I am in Christ, but I am not sure that my sins are forgiven. I may not have this assurance until I die. Only then will I know for sure that I am going to heaven." Such a believer is taking Christ as his city of refuge. However, we who believe in Christ may have the assurance of salvation and the assurance that our sins have been forgiven. We should be able to say to those who have fled into Christ as their refuge city, "Since you have entered into Christ and are in Him, your sins have been forgiven. Christ has already died for you and for your sins. His redeeming death on your behalf has already been accomplished. Since Christ died for your sins, your sins have surely been forgiven." A believer who receives this word will no longer be like the Old Testament saints waiting in the city of refuge but will enjoy God's direct salvation.
The point we need to see here is that there is an important, dispensational difference in the significance of the refuge cities for the Old Testament saints and for us today. In the Old Testament age, the refuge cities were places in which to hide and to wait for the death of the high priest. Those who enter into Christ today may do so with the assurance that He has already died and that their sins have already been forgiven. Christ died for us even before we were born. Now we simply need to apply what He has done for us, saying, "O Lord Jesus, I love You. You died for me before I was born. Hallelujah, my sins have been forgiven, and I have been released!"
Second, God ordained that there were to be six refuge cities, three beyond the Jordan and three in the land of Canaan. This arrangement was according to God's creation and sovereignty. God created the river Jordan and the land on the east and on the west of the Jordan. In type, the two groups of three refuge cities testify and declare to the universe that the Triune God is living on earth among human beings to be their city of refuge.
Furthermore, the distribution of the six refuge cities in different places indicates that the Triune God is near and available. No matter where we may be, Christ, the embodiment of the Triune God, is near and available. Because He is everywhere, He is wherever we may be. The Triune God has spread among men to be a city of refuge for all those who make mistakes. We all have made mistakes and continue to make mistakes daily, but the Triune God has spread to the very place where we are. Now we simply need to turn to Him and come into Him.
Now, as the final matter pertaining to the prearrangement of the distribution of the good land, let us consider the statute in 36:1-13.
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