Numbers 35:25 “And the congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the blood avenger, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge to which he fled; and he shall live in it until the death of the high priest who was anointed with holy oil.”
Observation: Various types of offenses carried different penalties. Here, a way to deal with someone who had unintentionally killed another person is proscribed (see Num. 35:15).
Application: Cities of refuge were places where an “unintentional” murderer could live in safety. The family of the deceased was given the right and authority to kill the murderer to avenge the death of their loved one, but they could only do this outside the city of refuge; inside the city was safety and sanctuary from judgment. And when the high priest (the one who was anointed with holy oil) died, the debt of the murderer was cancelled, and he could resume his life in safety; the right to avenge the death was cancelled by the death of the high priest.
This single verse sums up the entire Gospel! I am held accountable for my sin, including sins I had no conscious awareness of. But there is a place of safety—a place of refuge—designated by the Father. That place is in my accepting the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son as having been done for me personally.
This passage paints a picture of my coming voluntarily to Him for protection from my just penalty. By His death I am set free, no longer bound by the bondage of my sin.
I love that this verse even describes the dying high priest as being the one who was anointed with the holy oil. Jesus Himself, my Great High Priest, was anointed with the oil of myrrh in preparation for his death on my behalf. God has shown this pattern of safety and redemption since the earliest days of dealing with His people. In myself, I deserve death—I deserve to receive punishment for my sin, yet He provided Jesus to pay my penalty. By His shed blood and broken body I am living free.
Prayer: Father, thank You that I can walk in freedom because of Your sacrifice. And Lord, I pray that the eyes of the blind would be opened, that they might understand the implications of what You wrote here thousands of years ago.