We've all been wronged at some point in our lives. We've all wanted to have justice... well, as long as it wasn't us that did the wrong thing (mercy seems so much better in those cases)! This week, we talk about the "city of refuge" and how it (and its purpose) should influence how we think about justice and mercy.
The picture isn’t justice, but revenge.
Revenge says that you are the final authority.
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement. ~ Matthew 5:22
It is not the righteous who find refuge but it’s those who know that they are not.
…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with our water. ~ Hebrews 10:22 (ESV)
This is about confession to show humility.
There is humility in confession. A recognition of flaws. ~ Russell Brand
We all need a Saviour.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ~ Romans 3:23
Justice is a good thing. The problem is that we are a biased judge.
We must leave our plea at the feet of the perfect judge.
When someone wrongs us, we rarely (if ever) want to do the same thing back. Why? Because we want to do something more harmful. Likewise, when someone insults us, our instinct is to search for words that will be more insulting. ~ Rob Bell
This is why Jesus words to bless those who curse us is still revolutionary to this day.
If there is no accountability there is no learning.
To think you don’t need accountability is an arrogance that doesn’t take into consideration the weight of your brokenness.
Consider the murderousness of your own spirit before you dare cause others, and before you attempt to repair the fabric of the work. Maybe it’s not the world that’s at fault. Maybe it’s you. You’ve failed to make the mark. You’ve missed the target. You’ve fallen short of the glory of God. You’ve sinned. And all of that is your contribution to the insufficiency and evil of the world. ~ Jordan Peterson
The good news is that no matter how many times you have missed the mark Jesus restores.
What matters and what God wants to hear is the anxious cry sent up to him, which, the moment it is sounded, even from the farthest coast, also reaches the centre of God’s heart. It is in “Hanging by a thread”—provided the thread is God—that the covenant relationship is tested anew and restored. ~ Hans Urs von Balthasar
When men hear this single word, that God is reconciled to them, it only raises up those who are fallen down, but restores those who were ruined, and recalls them from death to life. ~ John Calvin
[Jesus has] come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~ John 10:10
The True High Priest
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. ~ Hebrew 4:14-16
Just as the death of the High Priest released someone from the exile in the city of refuge so the death of Jesus, the true high priest, has released us from the eternal exile of our misdeeds. The difference is, though our High Priest has died, Jesus has defeated the grave and risen victoriously.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. ~ Hebrew 12:1-2
next week – Joshua 23:6-16 - Special Guest Speaker!
Anchor Group Questions
Hangout Warming up to the topic
- As we begin to discuss the book of Joshua, what are some questions you have about it?
Hear Listen to God through Scripture
- Read Joshua 20:1-6
- Where are some of the places you find refuge?
- What are some ways you can better point to the “refuge”, Christ?
- Read Hebrews 4:14-16
- What are some of your feelings about having a High Priest who empathizes with our weakness?
Huddle Make it personal and pray together
- What has God been saying to you through this week’s teaching? Talk about the next steps in your life and pray for each other.
- How can we be a safe place for others—a place to be known and loved?