As a Lenten practice during this season, clergy and leaders in the church from youth to elders will be sharing their devotions.
Scripture: Numbers 35-36
Key verse: (35:28) 28 The accused must stay in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest; only after the death of the high priest may they return to their own property.
Reflection: Central to maintaining the purity of the land given was the need to prevent the shedding of innocent blood. However, the shedding of a guilty party was customary; if a man deliberately slew another, the slayer’s life was to be forfeited. Blood is given for blood, however shed, because murder was to take what belonged to God, God’s very life and breath that lived on the earth through a person. But there is more to this story as we read the selection for today.
A city of refuge was made in order to provide time to fully investigate and completely understand the act of an unintentional murder. The slayer could be isolated until the death of the High Priest. At the death of the High Priest, it was understood that his blood would in some way allow for the slayer’s release. The death of the High Priest would expunge the consequences of blood-shed.
As we journey to the cross in this season of Lent, we sit in a city of refuge. We have failed in our promises and have committed great sin against others, against ourselves, and against God. We are seeking refuge from the punishment in which we deserve for our actions, whether intentional or unintentional. It is by the shedding of blood on the cross that we are made whole and are made free again. Christ is prophet, priest, and king: Jesus spoke God’s word and is the Word of God; Jesus cleanses us by the offering of his life; Jesus is above of all earthly authority and is ruler of all.
I wonder where you are seeking refuge now, as we wait for the High Priest to offer his life for the forgiveness of our sins. In knowing what is ahead in Holy Week, and the victory over sin and death claimed through Christ’s death and resurrection, I wonder how we are to respond through our living and dying, through our blessing of wholeness in Christ, and through our call to sacrificial love.
Prayer: You are my refuge and strength, O God, a very present help in times of need. I run from my failures and seek shelter due to my sinful ways. Draw me into you. By the sacrificial love of Christ Jesus our Lord, make me whole again I pray. Amen.
Author: Ben Brannan
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].