Prayer Focus: Brazil

Bible Reading: Joshua 19-22


1 Then the Lord said to Joshua,2 “Say to the people of Israel, ‘Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses,3 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.4 He shall flee to one of these cities and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and explain his case to the elders of that city. Then they shall take him into the city and give him a place, and he shall remain with them.5 And if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not give up the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unknowingly, and did not hate him in the past.6 And he shall remain in that city until he has stood before the congregation for judgment, until the death of him who is high priest at the time. Then the manslayer may return to his own town and his own home, to the town from which he fled.'”  Joshua 20:1-6


I’ve always been struck by this because God knew that someone would always want to take revenge for a loved one’s death, even if it was an accident.  So this elaborate system was setup so that if someone died because of a mistake you could flee to safety from the avenger.  Notice that there was still a trial because certainly there would be those who would kill a person on purpose and then claim it was an accident.

These cities of refuge were setup ahead of time.  Meaning that the people who lived in these cities knew that at some point that these people who would be running for their lives would come to their town.  And the town was expected to protect them.  This is a precarious position to be in given the era when whole cities would go to war to defend one man’s honor.


The Israelites had an innocent until proven guilty policy.  We have that policy in the United States, too, although it seems that people are judged in the court of opinion long before they are judged in the court of law.  Today dramatic cases make big news and the press has no qualms about skewing the information by presenting in the most dramatic ratings grabbing way possible.  Could you imagine today if we practiced the City of Refuge justice?  Would a whole town come together to a protect an individual until they could be safely and objectively tried in a court of law?  It’s hard to imagine.

But maybe we can start practicing this on an individual level by deflecting gossip.  When you hear someone accused of something maybe you could be there city of refuge.  And if they are found guilty you could always be the one to lead them to restoration through mercy and forgiveness.


Lord, even as I type this I know how difficult it can be to forgive and not judge.  Yet, you forgave me even though you “heard all the rumors” and knew which ones were true and have the right to judge me.  Teach me how to forgive others the way you’ve forgiven me.  Teach me how to be a refuge for the lost.  Amen