Can I be honest with you, dear reader? These last several chapters of Joshua have been a tough hang for me. We started by crossing the Jordan, and toppling Jericho. We went from being courageous in battle, encouraged and unafraid, to now dividing the land, and meticulously dividing it among tribes and people.
We went from valiant tales of victory, to what feels like a zoning meeting. I want to get back to the action and the miracles!
We will, but not quite yet. Joshua 20 begins the tribe of Levi’s part of the zoning meeting. The Levites were the priests of Israel. And before Israel makes specific allowances for the priests, God reminds his people to establish six cities in their territory, called cities of refuge.
We’ll focus intently on cities of refuge this week. But before we do, let’s look at this chapter with a broad lens. Let’s see that this chapter in Joshua is so crucial to the structure of whole book. It’s a needed refrain in the Bible’s big song about God’s faithfulness to his people.
Joshua 20 asks us readers to look back to earlier passages in scripture. God said, ‘When I, the Lord have destroyed your enemies and driven them out, when you’ve settled into the land I’m going to give to you, set aside these cities of refuge.’ We’re asked to hyperlink back to these places in scripture, and see that God keeps his word. His word is being worked out right in front of our eyes.
There was a time, mere pages ago in our Bibles, where God’s people were waiting, and longing for his deliverance. Mere generations ago, the Israelites were literally groaning for the land God promised they’d possess. And here they are setting aside cities of refuge, just like God said they would.
We love the miraculous moves of God. We love when God parts the seas, and provides in the wilderness, and tears down walls. We love to see his faithfulness, and his power on display. But he’s still just as faithful in the small things as he is in the grandiose. We can rejoice as we step into new places, and new seasons, no matter how small they seem. A new step of faith is a miracle, no matter how small. God was faithful enough to bring you this far. God calls us, equips us, and sustains us. He keeps every promise.
Sister, you can take God at his word. He hasn’t changed. He hasn’t left. We might want to get back to more exciting passages of scripture, but let this little nugget be enough encouragement for today. God promised Israel cities of refuge in their new promised land. And here they are now, designating cities of refuge.
God is working for you, sister. He is leading you in the same way. You can take him at his word.