God who is our Refuge
The Lord said to Joshua, “Now tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed Moses…they will be places of refuge from relatives seeking revenge for the person who was killed. “Upon reaching one of these cities, the one who caused the death will appear before the elders at the city gate and present his case. They must allow him to enter the city and give him a place to live among them. If the relatives of the victim come to avenge the killing, the leaders must not release the slayer to them, for he killed the other person unintentionally and without previous hostility. But the slayer must stay in that city and be tried by the local assembly, which will render a judgment…These cities were set apart for all the Israelites as well as the foreigners living among them. Anyone who accidentally killed another person could take refuge in one of these cities. In this way, they could escape being killed in revenge prior to standing trial before the local assembly. Joshua 20:1-9
From the text, Joshua designated six cities of refuge. They were needed because there was still no formal justice system. Since there were no police force that will conduct the investigation to determine guilt or not, it will be the elders of the cities of refuge that will determine. It was also difficult for the family to avenge the death of a loved one especially where there is not much evidence that is available. Anyone who killed another could flee to one of these cities and be safe from his victim’s avenger. The killer would then be brought to trial to determine whether he killed intentionally or accidentally. If the former was the case, he was turned over to the avenger. If the latter was true, he was returned to the city of refuge, where he remained until the death of the high priest. Then he was free to return home. These cities of refuge pointed to the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is a safe and certain refuge for all who flee to him. “We who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us” (Hebrews 6:18). The lost sinner is in danger of not experiencing eternal life with God if he or she did not take refuge in Christ. Lost sinners are in danger of judgment because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). But when one comes to God by faith in order to be saved, he or she will find it easier for God wanted it to be easy for the fugitives to find their way to salvation. Apart from Christ, there is no other way that one can obtain salvation. It is only by surrendering one’s life to Christ that real salvation will be obtained.