Scripture Focus: Joshua 20.2-3
2 “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, 3 so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.

Student Writers Month:
This month, The Park Forum welcomes college and seminary student writers pursuing ministry careers. For more info about our yearly Student Writer program, see our website.

Reflection: We Are All Asylum Seekers

By Erin Newton

No one is immune to mistakes. Split-second reactions, emotional outbursts, or lapses in judgment are issues that plague all our lives. Harm inflicted on another person results in social, relational, or legal consequences.

In Israel, accidental murder still carried guilt, “a life for a life” (Leviticus 24.17-21). Yet, temporary asylum might be found by grasping the altar in the sanctuary or permanently relocating to a city of refuge. The offender was exiled but not completely outside of God’s presence. The contamination from murder was removed to allow restoration of the land from bloodshed. 

If the murderer could safely arrive at one of these six cities, that person would be given shelter and provisions. Protection was ensured although the bloodguilt would still exist. These cities were also the designated lands for the Levites and under their priestly care the murderer would start anew.

The only way the murderer’s guilt could be ransomed was through the death of the high priest. As representative of the nation, it was the only death considered commensurate of such great guilt. Animal sacrifices covered unintentional sins but not the death of a person. God values human life exceedingly. No ordinary lamb could be the equivalent worth of humanity.

We may think this is irrelevant to us, “non-murderers”, yet in our anger, Jesus tells us that we are as guilty as a murderer. We commiserate with Paul; although we want to do good, evil is right there with us (Romans 7.21). We cannot escape the unintentional, harmful actions we commit against one another nor can we avoid the consequences of our impulses. We are in desperate need of amnesty.

Where shall we go to grasp the altar or what place will ensure our protection? How soothing it is to know that our Great High Priest has already died and paid our ransom. How comforting it is to lay down in rest knowing God is our ever-present refuge. We no longer need to spend our lives waiting for someone else to grant us redemption. Christ has already paid the price of our bloodguilt and the ground no longer cries out to condemn us. Today we live in different political systems which means legal consequences will continue to affect us. But our refuge in Christ is eternal.

No one is immune to mistakes, but we can find ransom in the death of Jesus and safety in His care. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
I will call upon God, and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning, and at the noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.
He will bring me safely back… God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me. — Psalm 55.17

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings

Joshua 20-21 (Listen – 6:38)
Acts 1 (Listen – 3:58)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Read more about Jesus, our Restorer
Even in the intensity of his own suffering, Christ healed those Peter attacked and forgave those Peter cursed at.