By James Faris - Posted at Gentle Reformation:
God made us to be emotional and to love justice. Our emotions motivate us to pursue justice. God also knows that our emotions can cloud our thinking such that vengeance is not based on justice. So, in the Old Testament, the Lord established cities of refuge. There, people who were guilty might find asylum until the truth could be fully known. Only then would retribution be inflicted on those found guilty (Exodus 21:12-14, Numbers 35:10-15, Deuteronomy 19:1-13, Joshua 20).
The undergirding principle of the cities of refuge is that our emotions must be harnessed by the truth as we seek justice. Facts must bridle our feelings. Only then will we love life the way we should.
The Old Testament laws of the cities of refuge deal specifically with manslaughter and murder – the greatest injustice that could be done because it involves taking a person’s life. The principle is to govern the way we deal with all lesser injustices, hurts, and losses. We may endure loss of life in our family, what we perceive to be a harsh word from a friend, or the disappearance of the candy bar we had stashed away to enjoy later. Whatever the case, God’s law is aiming for our hearts through these ancient laws.