It really does me good writing this blog because it makes me go back and look over what God has said and done over the course of this year through my bible journalling journey so far. I remember this page so clearly because I think it was one of the first times I had used watercolour paint in my bible. In case any of you are having a go at this whole bible art thing, and are interested, I thought I would just mention a bit about page preparation here. As you know bible pages are often very thin and delicate so if you are going to start applying loads of strong colours or watery paint to your pages you run the risk of it soaking through and decorating the other side with some beautiful abstract splodges, or possibly sticking your pages together so that you get horribly confused. If I am trying a new technique or medium I like to test it out first on a spare bit of bible paper – some people just do this on one of the index pages at the front or back, but I have a little old Gideon’s new testament that I keep for this purpose. If I discover that the art supplies I’m using are likely to bleed through my page then I prepare the page using some clear gesso. The gesso works like a primer and dries see-through on the page to make a barrier so the paint doesn’t soak in to the paper. Personally I think this generally is better suited for acrylics than watercolours but I’m still experimenting. Gesso is not essential but I’d highly recommend it. It also makes the page a little less fragile. I hope that’s a helpful tip for some of you. I have to admit this isn’t my favourite page to look at but the massive truth that little chapter 20 holds is so wonderful it’s worth another glance.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the manslayer who strikes any person without intent or unknowingly may flee there. They shall be for you a refuge from the avenger of blood…” ch 20:1-3
Putting it simply, the law dictated that if you took someones life then your own life was forfeit. The death penalty was the normal course of action for murder and the person who got to carry out the sentence was “the avenger of blood”, normally someone from the victim’s family (NB Numbers 35:19). But as we all know sometimes accidents happen. If, for example, you were ploughing a field with your friend and you accidentally reversed your oxen over him and he died, or you were drawing water from the local well and you slipped in the mud and unintentionally knocked your neighbour in and she drowned, or perhaps you were felling some trees on your newly inherited hilly slope and one of them got away, rolled down the slope and squashed your brother flat… these kind of things could happen where someone died but there was no malicious intent – it was an accident. Under the law your life was still forfeit for the life you had taken so God told Joshua to provide 6 cities that people could go to for asylum, where they were protected from the judgement of death. If you ran for your life to one of these cities and presented your case to the elders you were given shelter and protection until you could stand trial. The avenger of the blood could not touch you all the time you were within that city. And if you were found to be without guilt in regard to your motives then you were given a home in that city. It also talks about a free pardon for all the refugees if the high priest died during their stay, at this point the city would open its gates and everyone would be able to return home free from the legal consequences of their actions! The high priest’s death set everyone free from the penalty of death. Sound like anyone we know?
Proverbs 18:10 says “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run in and they are saved”.
These cities of refuge are beautiful little pictures of Jesus! He is our refuge from trouble! He is our hiding place and our protection! We run to Christ to escape the condemnation of the law and the accuser who knows we are guilty and deserve judgement and death. But we have a Great High Priest who has died in our place, He has defeated death and opened the gates so the we can know freedom! I love how the writer to the Hebrews puts it;
“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.”Heb 6:18-20 NLT
This week I am praying, dear friends and readers, for you to know the shelter and protection that comes from being hidden in Christ, that He would be your refuge and hiding place in whatever storms you face, and that you would know freedom from condemnation, guilt and fear because you are found in Him! I thought I’d just leave you with this little amazon box castle I made some time ago to remind myself of some of this truth. The outside walls are covered with scriptures about God being our refuge and strength like psalm 18:1-3, the drawbridge is about entering with praise and thanksgiving (psalm 100:3) and inside is lots of truth about resting in His shelter like Psalm 61:3-5 and Psalm 59:16-17. Thanks again for taking the time to read. I hope you have a fab week. Lots of love Rach x