Chapter 19 records again the cities of refuge.
We have already seen that they were protection for those
who were guilty of causing accidental death, what is
today called manslaughter. Moses had already set aside
three such cities east of Jordan (Bezer, Ramoth, and
Golan). Later, Joshua set aside three cities west of
Jordan (Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron). All six were
Levitical cities, included in the Levites’ 48 cities
given in Numbers 35:6. Chapter 20 records the rules of
warfare. Those who had built a new house, planted a new
vineyard, were newly married, or fainthearted were to be
excused from military service.
Chapter 21 records various laws and
instructions. In verses 1-9 the law is given in
connection with an unknown murder. Bloodguiltiness of
this sort had to be atoned for by killing a heifer in a
deserted valley, and by the elders and Levites washing
their hands over the dead animal.
Our reading today again emphasizes the fact that
God is a jealous God. As His Word was explicit to the
children of Israel, so it is to men today. It is His
desire that His people worship Him only and follow Him
explicitly. If we disobey, then we will be chastened. He
is an all-loving God, but He is also a just God. He
hates sin, but loves the sinner. He sent His only
begotten Son to die in our place. It is His desire that
every man be saved, but when one rejects the wonderful
gift of His Son, he will be eternally separated from
God. Also, when a child of God sins, fellowship with God
is broken and the happiness and joy of Christian living
departs until that child comes to a point of repentance,
and allows God to restore the joy of salvation to him.