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In the Gates

A Check on Passion

The Sixth Commandment
Cities of refuge reined in unjust passions.
Numbers 35.9-15
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall select cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person without intent may flee there. The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment. And the cities that you give shall be your six cities of refuge. You shall give three cities beyond the Jordan, and three cities in the land of Canaan, to be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be for refuge for the people of Israel, and for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills any person without intent may flee there.”

One more word is in order concerning the cities of refuge. Understandably, those who had lost a loved one at the hand of one of their neighbors, whether accidental or intentional, would be deeply grieved, perhaps even enraged. Some may even have thought to take it in their hand to wreak vengeance against the offender, regardless of the judgment of the city elders.
Separation of the guilty in a city of refuge for an extended period of time allowed grace to do its work in the hearts of those thus inclined. “Time heals all wounds,” we are told, and that is especially so in a community where grace is at work, bringing transformation to those who submit to God and His Law.
Our own civil codes mirror this. While an offender is required to suffer incarceration for his crime, those offended against can seek grace for him and for themselves. The offender may come to a sense of contrition, such that both rehabilitation and restitution can be performed. Even the lengthy process of enacting the death penalty leaves time for grace to work in all parties.
God knows the sinful tendencies of our hearts, and in His grace and wisdom, He also knows how to leave room for transformation to occur.
We are now accepting registrations for the course, Spiritual Maturity 1: Revival. This free, six-session course by T. M. Moore allows you to study by yourself or with a mentor, and includes free resources from Patrick, Columbanus, Luther, and Edwards, among others. Visit The Ailbe Seminary for more information on this training opportunity.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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