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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
(412)822-7255
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February 26, 2007

Numbers 35-36
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Numbers
Chapter 35
  1. And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
  2. Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them.
  3. And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts.
  4. And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about.
  5. And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits; and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities.
  6. And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.
  7. So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs.
  8. And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.
  9. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  10. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
  11. Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.
  12. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.
  13. And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge.
  14. Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge.
  15. These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.
  16. And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
  17. And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
  18. Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
  19. The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.
  20. But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die;
  21. Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.
  22. But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait,
  23. Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm:
  24. Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments:
  25. And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.
  26. But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled;
  27. And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood:
  28. Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.
  29. So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
  30. Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
  31. Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.
  32. And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.
  33. So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.
  34. Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.


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Numbers
Chapter 36
  1. And the chief fathers of the families of the children of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came near, and spake before Moses, and before the princes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel:
  2. And they said, The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel: and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother unto his daughters.
  3. And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance.
  4. And when the jubile of the children of Israel shall be, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.
  5. And Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, The tribe of the sons of Joseph hath said well.
  6. This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry.
  7. So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.
  8. And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers.
  9. Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.
  10. Even as the LORD commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad:
  11. For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their father's brothers' sons:
  12. And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father.
  13. These are the commandments and the judgments, which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.


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 There are several things that stand out to me in today's reading. First of all, I see once again the concern that God had for His servants, the Levites. The Levites were not given a specific area of Canaan to settle in. The reason for this was that they had to minister to the entire nation, and this could not effectively be accomplished if they were obligated to live in one section of the land, far distant from those they were ministering to. Instead, God gave them 48 cities in which to dwell. He also decreed that the suburbs of these cities be given as well. This was so that the Levites not only had homes to live in, but also small plots of ground for grazing their cattle. The Levites were not given large tracts of land, because God had not intended for them to be farmers, but rather intended for them to minister unto Him. They were to be cared for by the other Israelites through the sacrifice system. However, God did permit them to have a little land of their own. Matthew Henry explains: "Thus was care taken that they should not only live, but live plentifully." Even so today, God intends for His servants to be cared for by those to whom they minister ( I Cor. 9:14 - "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.")

 These cities were donated by the other tribes; each tribe giving "of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth" ( 35:8). Not only did God see to it that the Levites were provided for, but he also did it in a way that was fair and equitable to the entire nation. This principle of giving is repeated in I Corinthians 16:2:

"let every one of you lay by him in store, as god hath prospered him."
Paul's desire was
"...an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality," ( II Cor. 8:14).
God never asks for what we can not give. He does, however, ask us to do what we can with what He has given us to meet the needs of others.

 One last point of interest concerns the six cities of refuge. These were scattered throughout Canaan, and existed for men to flee to if they had killed a man accidentally. Willful murder is a serious issue to God. Men are made in the image of God, and immediately after the Flood God established the principle that

"Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man," ( Gen. 9:6).
Failure to execute a murderer meant that it was acceptable to take the life of one who bore the image of God. Thus, when a man was killed, an avenger would go out to take the life of the assailant. The murderer had to be killed, for God says in this chapter
"So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it," ( vs. 33).
However, sometimes a man might be killed accidently. If that happened, he was to flee to a city of refuge, where he could have a fair trial. If found guilty of willful murder, he would be executed. If not, he could remain there as a free man until the death of the High Priest, at which time he would return to his home. Once again it is seen that God is a righteous and just God, both punishing and protecting according to a man's actions. It is interesting to note that God's protection only extended to the border of the city. If the fleeing assailant left the place of safety, then he was fair game for the avenger ( vs. 26-28). What a lesson this is for the child of God! The Lord offers His children protection from Apollyon (the Destroyer), but if we choose to walk away from our place of refuge close God, then the roaring lion may devour us ( I Peter 5:8). Stay close to the Lord, humble yourself before Him, pay attention and walk by faith ( I Peter 5:6-9), and He will take care of you.

Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery

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