In the Old Testament, the laws about homicide were very strict, because the spilled blood contaminated the earth, which caused God to turn way from His people.
If there was no atonement, serious consequences would come upon everyone.
There was only one way to solve the problem: a law was given to Moses by God, which stated that the blood shed had to be avenged. This meant a life for a life, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The killer would die the same way he killed, by the hand of the avenger, who was usually a close relative of the victim. There had to be at least two witnesses of the homicide for the revenge to be effective.
The law made a distinction between intentional homicides (cases in which the killer acted with premeditation) and involuntary manslaughter (where the person did not intend to kill, but acted in self-defense or because the death happened accidentally). However, for the person avenging the blood of the victim, it did not matter whether it was intentional or not. He longed to get revenge at any cost. This is why the person who shed the blood had to flee! But where would they go?
This is when God said to Moses:
Then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there. They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment. Numbers 35.11-12
Six cities were designated by Moses as a place of refuge. The person who committed the involuntary homicide met the elders at the city gates, so they could judge his case. An interrogation was conducted to see what was the nature of the crime. If he was found guilty, he was handed over to the avenger; otherwise, he would be allowed to enter the city and save his life, because the avenger would not be able to touch him there. There was absolute protection within the city, but, if at some point, the murderer left, the lurking avenger could attack him.
Spiritually speaking, the Lord Jesus is this city of refuge.
We were all guilty for our sins and we were at the mercy of the avenger, who is the devil. How could we escape his fury, his hatred and his desire for revenge? Only through our Savior, who stood in our place and took our sins upon Himself! It is in Him that we can find refuge and protection against all evil.
The blood that should have been shed was ours and not His, but He paid the price for us all. His throne is where we should run to for help.
As long as we are under His care, the devil will not have the power to touch us.
Several times, David found himself surrounded by enemies and, humanly speaking, there was no escaping them. In those moments of despair, he sought refuge in God and was rescued. This is why he said:
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18.2
The Lord Jesus is the Refuge, a place of rest and peace for all who are lost and desperate, being accused by the devil or their own conscience; for those who are tired of the humiliations, injustices and neglect.
He said: Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11.28