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Because He Should Have Remained

by Brother Dale Raynes
Taken from a message and edited for publication

In Numbers chapter 35, it tells us of the cities of refuge. In great detail, God instructed Moses on how to set up and establish these cities. There were to be a total of six of them. They were for a specific purpose. That purpose was to provide protection to one who had accidentally killed another. 

In the case of one who took the life of another because of hatred, there was one law: that person shed innocent blood, and they were guilty of murder. They were to be delivered up to the revenger of blood to execute judgment on the guilty. 

However, in the case where it was an unfortunate accident that resulted in the loss of life and there was no prior animosity, nor was it a premeditated act, the slayer in this case was innocent. He was in need of a city of refuge—a place of safety where he could run to and safely have his case heard.

Numbers 35:10-12, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; 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. 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.”

Numbers 35:25-28, “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. But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; 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: 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.”

The Old Testament had designated cities of refuge. Thank God for our cities of refuge today in the New Testament dispensation. Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Thank God for Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. He is the head of the Church. The Church of God is our city of refuge today. 

Acts 3:19-26, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”  

Acts 4:11-12, “This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Thank God for Jesus Christ. The scripture here tells us there is no other name given whereby we can be saved. He is our refuge, our rock of salvation. Christ is a refuge for the guilty soul.

Romans 3:19-23, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” 

The scripture tells us, “All have sinned.” I am glad that is past tense. There was a day when we got saved and entered that city of refuge. We were lost in a world of sin when the truth of the gospel reached us and convicted our hearts. We knew we were lost. But then we made our way to an old-fashioned altar of prayer and repented of our sins, and God heard our cry, forgave us, and saved us. We were truly saved and delivered from sin. Thank God for true Bible salvation and not just a case of the “do betters.” It was then we entered this city of refuge: the Church of God. It was all because of Calvary—because of Jesus Christ and His shed blood. 

Ephesians 2:1-6, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

Thank God, one day we were dead in trespasses and sins, but God quickened us. He raised us up from a spiritually dead condition to a heavenly place. In times past, we were of the world. We were no different from any other. We walked according to the course of this old sinful world. You would not have recognized us. People see us today and think we have always been this way. Far from it. One day we were lost in the world. We were dead spiritually. But then in verse 4, it tells us, “But God, who is rich in mercy.” Thank God for the mercy He showed us. Where would we be if it were not for the mercy of God? God loved us when there was nothing to love. We were unlovable. 

Luke 19:9-10, “And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Are you glad for that day when Christ sought after you? Many of us were not seeking after salvation. But one day He came seeking us. He got in our way, as it were. He caused time and events to come to us. He put saints in contact with us, and God, through the Holy Spirit, began to deal with us. 

Colossians 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Thank God for the day He saved us and, through His blood, washed all our sins away. 

In the Old Testament, the way to the cities of refuge was clearly marked. And today, in this New Testament dispensation, the way to the city of refuge is also clearly marked. 

John 14:5-6, “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” It is only through Jesus Christ that we are able to enter the city of refuge. 

John 10:7-9, “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Jesus Christ is the door to this city of refuge. If you ever enter the city, it will be through Jesus Christ the door. You will have to be born again. You will have to obtain old-fashioned Bible salvation. To do this, you will have to confess and forsake all sin. 

Those Old Testament cities of refuge were accessible to all. Likewise, this New Testament city of refuge is accessible to all through Jesus Christ. 

Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” I am glad this way is for whosoever will. It is available to anyone who is willing to pay the price.

2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” I am glad that He is longsuffering. Not very many of us got saved the very first time God spoke to us. I can remember the first time I came to a church service. I did not get saved at that time. But I am glad He did not stop talking to me. It was not long afterwards that I bowed at an altar of prayer and got truly saved. 

In the Old Testament, they had to make their way to the city of refuge quickly—without delay. I can imagine someone who suddenly needed to get to a city of refuge. The avenger was on their trail and pursuing them. The one fleeing had to move quickly. There was one behind them. If the Lord has been dealing with your soul, you need to come quickly and get your needs met. It was so important for those ones back then to move without any delay. 

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.”

How many times have we seen people come out to the house of God for a few services, and you begin to work with them and pray for them. Perhaps you can see God convicting them, but if they do not move, after a while you notice the spirit of conviction starts to lift. We get under more of a burden for them, and we pray, “Lord, you see them!” It is sad. Most of the time, if they fail to move, they eventually quit coming, and you do not see them anymore. 

How many never make it to the city of refuge? I think of those ones in the Old Testament; they would run with everything they had. They would put their all into it just to make it into the city of refuge. They knew once inside that they were safe. The avenger could not get in. If you are not saved, you have an enemy, an avenger, who is after your soul. If you fail to make it inside the city of refuge, great danger awaits you.

2 Corinthians 6:2, “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” There is an accepted time. You cannot get saved any time you want. It is sad when we see individuals say, “I will get saved, but I want to wait for my situation to work out.” But it does not work that way. When the Lord speaks to you, that is the time for you to move. That is your accepted time. 

Moving on, my real burden is for those of us within the city of refuge. If you are saved and in this city of refuge, you need to remain in it. Our thought comes from our opening scripture in Numbers 35:28, “Because he should have remained….” We are thankful for everyone who is saved and in the Church of God today. But there are those who were once among us and are no longer.

What happened to them? They left the safety of the city. We see them and from appearances, it looks like they go down fast. That is why it is so important for our young people to get into this thing. Put your heart into it. The enemy is working hard to pick off our young people. Think of how big our congregations would be had everyone remained in the city. 

Numbers 35:25-28, “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. But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; 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: Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge….”

What happened? He went out. He should have remained in the city of his refuge. It is up to each one of us to take heed and remain in the city of refuge—the Church. It was foolish to leave the city of refuge. The avenger was out there waiting for an opportunity. There is safety inside the walls of the city of refuge. We need to take care that we do not become complacent. We cannot afford to begin to relax and let down our guard. 

We think of the one in the Old Testament who made it to the city of refuge. Perhaps they have been in the city for a while.  Maybe they had been in the city for six months, a year, or maybe even 10 years. And after a while, they begin to think, “Surely that avenger is still not out there waiting.” How long have you been saved? Maybe you grew up in the Church of God and this is all you know. The enemy will bring all kinds of suggestions to you. Why? He is plotting to get you outside the walls of the city. 

I imagine that one, as they began to think that perhaps the avenger grew tired and went home. Maybe he did, and maybe he did not. It could be that the avenger hired others to keep an eye out and watch for any sign of that one venturing outside of the city. Eventually that one grows restless, and so he ventures out to the edge and looks out. He may have been scared at first. But nervously, he took that first step outside as he continued looking. Nothing happened, and so he grows more confident. The avenger may have been absent, but maybe there were those looking on, and so word would get back to the avenger. And that one is now in great danger. 

Numbers 35:26-27, “But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge….” If at any time—how long have you been saved? As soon as he was outside the border, it was open season on him. It did not matter how long he had remained in the city. How long have you been saved? May this put a godly fear in us. There is an avenger, or enemy, out there waiting. We cannot afford to be so foolish to take a chance. 

1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” The enemy is just outside the borders of the city. He is walking, seeking whom he may devour. He is after every one of us. But he is especially after our young people. It is foolish to venture out there beyond the border. Yet, how many have done just that? There are many sad examples of those who left the safety and security of the city and have never returned. Too many have had the thought, “It will never happen to me.” But the enemy was waiting on them. 

Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Jesus Christ purchased this city of refuge with His own blood. You need to have a real vision of this city of refuge. Everything we need is right here in this city. There is no reason to go outside the borders of the city. There is nothing out there. 

Psalm 48:1-3, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge.”

People in the world want what we have. We have everything we need here in this city. There is protection inside this city. God is known in her palaces for a refuge! People see the difference between us and the world, between us and false religion. They know when they see the peace of God—peace from having our sins forgiven. Verse 5, “They saw it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away.” They see your life and your testimony. When people get around us and hear us tell how we used to be and how God saved us and changed us, they secretly desire what we are talking about. 

Verses 6-8, “Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail. Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.” Thank God, He has established this New Testament city of refuge. At the end, it says “Selah,” or think about it. We need to think more on these things. This is why the enemy works so hard on some. He gets them to think there is something else out there beyond the border that they need. But there is nothing out there. The enemy wants to get our vision dim and distorted. 

Verses 9-12, “We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple. According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness. Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.”

Walk about Zion. Oh, if only more people would do that! Do not go outside of her, but walk about her. She is beautiful. Look at all God has given us. Things the world does not have: peace, real joy, happiness, and all the blessings that God bestows on us. He gives us so many blessings. And they are all right here in this city. Walk about Zion; look round about her. What has God done for you? From time to time, we all pass through some hard places. What good would it do for you to leave the safety of the city and venture outside? Would it help you? It is sure not helping the world. When the world goes through hard places, they come to us and ask us to pray for them. 

Verses 13-14, “Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” Do you have it settled that you are going to remain in this city of refuge? We have something to tell our children. Who will pass it on to the next generation if we leave?

Oh, what a refuge we have from the world! There is a holy highway in this city of refuge. Isaiah 35:5-7, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.”

Everything we need has been provided in this city. There is no drought. We are no longer thirsty. We have everlasting water. In sin we were always thirsty. We were always seeking something to satisfy. We thirsted, and the world could not quench that thirst. Our souls were like this parched ground. But thank God, now it is full of springs of water. We have all we need in this city. There is no lack. 

Verses 8-10, “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

Isaiah tells us, “No lion shall be there.” The enemy cannot penetrate the walls of this city. There is nothing in this city that will devour you. It tells us here that no unclean thing shall pass over it. The world is constantly pressing in on the Church; trying to slip something in. But thank God, those things are kept out. 

When someone goes outside the boundaries of the city, they are susceptible to all of those things. How many times have we heard statements like: “I will never do that,” or “I will only go so far.” If you leave, you do not know what you will do. You become fair game for the enemy. 

Hebrews 10:1-9, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”

Thank God for Jesus Christ; He guards our city. We have so much better protection over what those Old Testament cities of refuge had. Nothing can penetrate this city of refuge. So quit letting the devil beat up on you. Christ is the door. To get in, the devil would have to get past the door. That we know will never happen. For Satan to snare a soul, they first must go out and leave the security within the city. 

Jesus Christ is the door, and the blood has been applied to the door posts and lintel. In the book of Exodus, during the Passover, they had to apply the blood. When they did that, the death angel could not enter. They were not to leave the house that night. With the blood of Christ applied, the enemy cannot enter—he cannot go past the blood. 

Numbers 35:28, “Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge….” That revenger of blood is outside, waiting. It does not matter how young or old you are, the revenger is waiting—he is watching. But the only way you will be in danger is if you leave the city of refuge.

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