Appoint Out For You Cities of Refuge

Joshua 20:1-9 – “The LORD also spoke unto Joshua, saying, “Speak to the Children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spoke unto you by the hand of Moses:

“That the slayer who kills any person unawares and unwittingly may flee there: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. (The cities of refuge were not for murderers, but rather to protect those who had killed someone accidentally; protect them from members of the family of the victim who sought revenge, and for whatever reason.)

“And when he who does flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the Elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them.

“And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver the slayer up into his hand; because he smote his neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not beforetime (there was no bad blood between them, so to speak).

“And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the High Priest who shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from where he fled. (The High Priest is a Type of Christ. When the High Priest died, the man was free to return to his home, and would be protected by law. When Jesus died on the Cross, this made it possible for men to be free, at least those who would accept Him, of which all of this was a type [Rom. 8:2].)

“And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in Mount Naphtali, and Shechem in Mount Ephraim, and Kirjath-arba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.

“And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the Tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the Tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the Tribe of Manasseh. (Hebrews 6:18 sets forth Christ as the City of Refuge for sinners guilty of His Blood; and the six cities appointed by Joshua display, by the meaning of their names, something of the sufficiency of that Saviour; for in Him is found: ‘Holiness’ [Kadesh]; ‘Strength’ [Shechem]; ‘Fellowship’ [Hebron]; ‘Safety’ [Bezer]; ‘Uplifting’ [Ramoth]; and, ‘Happiness’ [Golan]. God puts Holiness first and Happiness last. Man reverses this — Williams.)

“These were the cities appointed for all the Children of Israel, and for the stranger who sojourns among them, that whosoever kills any person at unawares might flee there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.”


It’s all too easy for us to read past the words of Verse 2 as stated above, without us pausing to give it much thought. However, everything placed in God’s Word was placed there by the Holy Spirit for a reason. In other words, there is a Spiritual Lesson for each of us to know and understand.

It has been said that the Old Testament is the New Testament hidden and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed; meaning that what is found in Type and Shadow in the Old Covenant is brought to light and beautifully so in the New Testament.

In the Command of God to Joshua to appoint six cities of “Refuge” throughout the Promised Land, portrays to us God’s Mercy, Compassion, and Grace. It shows us the lengths that God will go to bring a wayward sinner home.

Six is God’s Number for man. It speaks of man’s sin, hopelessness, flaws, and failure; hence, the Antichrist will use the number 666 as his evil stamp upon his followers.

The purpose of these six cities was for individuals who accidentally killed someone to flee to, if friends or relatives of the one killed were trying to seek revenge. Once in one of those cities, the person who did the killing could be safe. Once there, they had to stay until the High Priest died, and only then could he return to his home and family.

The High Priest was a Type of Christ. The demand that the individual must stay in the city of “Refuge” until the High Priest died, refers to Christ who would come and die on Calvary’s Cross for all of humanity. As those who fled to one of the six cities were safe, so too are safe all who come to Christ and believe that Jesus Christ is the only Means by which guilty men can go free, i.e., be Saved.

These six cities not only show us God’s Love, Mercy, and Compassion, but they also show us man’s cruelty. Never forget that none of us are incapable of extreme acts of cruelty and sin. As Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

But thanks be to God that He has made a way of escape for anyone who will simply trust Him and put their complete faith in Christ and what He did for us on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection.

In the names of these six cities we are given a beautiful plan as it regards God’s Intentions and Directions in our lives. They are as follows:


Kedesh means “holiness.” This, in no uncertain terms, tells us that God’s First Demand of His Children is “Holiness.” In fifty of the sixty-six Books of the Bible, the command “be ye holy” is found. However, Holiness cannot be found or obtained by works or Law, or religious rules and regulations, but only through Faith in the Finished Work of the Cross. Holiness is not an act or a work, but it is a state of the heart. Holiness and Sanctification go hand in hand. The Greek word for Sanctification is “hagiazo” and means “to make holy.” At the moment the believing sinner places their trust in Christ they are, according to I Corinthians 6:9-11, “washed,” referring to the Blood of Christ washing us from the stain of sin. We are “sanctified.” Now that we have been made clean by the Blood of Christ, we are now given a position of Sanctification, which is a position of perfection, and because it is all in Christ and not us (Jn. 14:20). As long as one’s Faith stays focused and anchored in Christ, our position can never change, irrespective of our conduct. Paul would say in Hebrews 10:14, “For by One Offering, He has perfected forever them who are sanctified.”

Now one can nullify God’s Perfection by walking away of one’s own accord, but if one won’t quit no matter what happens, you will make it, for as stated, we are judged by God, not according to our performance, but the performance of God’s Son. Then we are “Justified.” As Sanctification makes us clean, thereby giving us a position in Christ, Justification then declares us as clean, righteous, and Holy. So, Spiritual Life begins at Kedesh.


Shechem means “strength, strength that only comes through Holiness.” Holiness is the Believer’s real strength. This plays out to how we live, how we treat others, how we react during times of great trial and affliction. Strength as it regards things spiritual can never be produced by one’s works of willpower, it’s all through Christ and Him Crucified.


Hebron means “Fellowship.” Now that one is clothed in Holiness, thereby receiving strength, there can be real fellowship with God. Fellowship always speaks of relationship and our relationship with the Lord is more important than our work for the Lord. If one’s fellowship is right, the one’s work will be right.


Bezer means “safety.” The Lord is our safety net no matter what we may have to face in this life. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us no matter what. He is our calm in the middle of life’s storms.


Ramoth means “uplifting,” which refers to God’s Provision and Blessing in our lives. The Work of Christ is to lift man up and to restore to us all that was lost due to Adam’s Fall. However, all of God’s Blessings are predicated upon us walking in obedience to His Word. Deuteronomy 28:1 says, “And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto the Voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all His Commandments which I have commanded you this day, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the Earth.”

III John, Verse 2, says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.”


Golan means “happiness.” It is God’s Will for His Children to be happy, but if one will notice, God puts Holiness first, and happiness last. Unfortunately, man tries to put happiness first and Holiness last, however, when one does that, the end result is no happiness and no Holiness.

In closing, George Williams, the Irish Theologian, said of this, “Hebrews 6:18 sets forth Christ as the City of Refuge for sinners guilty of His Blood; and the six cities appointed by Joshua display, by the meaning of their names, something of the sufficiency of that Savior; for in Him is found ‘Holiness’ (Kedesh), ‘Strength’ (Shechem), ‘Fellowship’ (Hebron), ‘Safety’ (Bezer), ‘Uplifting’ (Ramoth), and ‘Happiness’ (Golan).”

And to that I say, “Amen and Amen.”

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