Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spiritual Warfare and the City of Refuge

It's in the context of suffering that I often tell my clients about the biblical idea of a city of refuge (Numbers 35:9-28). IN ancient Israel, if a person killed another person by accident, the offender could run to a city of refuge. There he would be safe from avenging relatives. He had to stay there, though, until the death of the high priest, but the offender always had some hope when caught in a horrible circumstance: God gave him (and other transgressors) the city of refuge to protect innocent people from sinful avengers. In the same way, Jesus is our city of refuge. In Hebrews 6:18 we read, "We...have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us." Just as each city of refuge was chosen so that every Israelite would be close enough to flee to one when necessary, so Jesus is near to all who call upon Him. He is the true friend we can trust in every circumstance. A client I'll call Marty had his life changed when he ran to the city of refuge. He called me one day and was direct. "Dr. Copley, my daughter told me to call you. She works full time with a Christian ministry. She thinks you can help me. My problem is I am a chronic alcoholic. I would love to become born again, but I thing I am an atheist. My wife became born again two years ago, but no matter how hard I try I can't believe." I met Marty the following week, and he said he was still an atheist. I took him through the gospel. He understood it quite well, on account of his wife and daughter testifying to him. In the process I told Marty that Jesus was our high tower and refuge. "You can run to Him and be saved," I said, explaining the idea of a place of refuge for the lost. "I would love to do so, but I'm not sure I have enough faith," Marty answered. I believe the enemy was trying to deceive him about faith. I knew he had faith; it took faith for him to call me, faith to come to my office, faith to seek the Lord. I asked him if he was willing to put his imperfect faith in the perfect work of Calvary. He said was and he did. It happened so quickly, I almost had to ask for a replay! But it was real. The concept of the city of refuge hit the mark, and Marty understood this was what Jesus was in reality. The change in his life was radical. Marty said, "For the first time in my life the Bible speaks to me. I now read the Word with understanding. One night I was tempted to drink again. I ran to Jesus for help and He was there. It was as if He reached into my heart and took away the desire to drink. I am so thankful to be His child." Jesus truly became Marty's city of refuge. Once again we see the power of Jesus to be our friend in suffering. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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