The cities chosen as Cities of Refuge were Kedesh of Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali; Shechem, in the hill country of Ephraim; and Kiriath-arba (also known as Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. The Lord also instructed that three cities be set aside for this purpose on the east side of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. They were Bezer, in the wilderness of the land of the tribe of Reuben; Ramoth of Gilead, in the territory of the tribe of Gad; and Golan of Bashan, in the land of the tribe of Manasseh. These Cities of Refuge were for foreigners living in Israel as well as for the Israelis themselves, so that anyone who accidentally killed another man could run to that place for a trial and not be killed in revenge.
–Joshua 20:7-9 Living Bible (TLB)
It is of these six cities here mentioned that I am now going to speak. The name of each of the six has something significant to tell about the name of jesus. They are six pictures of the Saviour, hung up in the Old Testament picture gallery.
I am going to ask you to take a journey with me to these towns of old Palestine. Before we enter their gates, I should like again to repeat the verse of the precious hymn:”
“How sweet the NAME of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.”
The First City of Refuge: Kedish
If you look far north in the map of Palestine above the lake of Mirom, near the snowy peaks of mount Hermon and Lebanon, you will see where this Refuge city lies. Recent travelers describe its ruins as still standing on a rocky ridge in the midst of green hills, surrounded with the remains of forts and castles built by the Crusaders in the middle ages.
It was situated within the tribe of Naphtali, and must have been a great town at the time when the old warrior Barak, who was born within its walls, marched from its gates to meet Sisera in the plain below with his nine hundred chariots of iron.
What does its name tell of Christ?
The Hebrew word Kedesh signifies “Holy.” Jesus was “The Holy One.” Not one stain of sin polluted His human nature. Angels in heaven, as they cast their crowns at His feet, cry, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” Devils on earth were compelled to exclaim, “We know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God” Jewish priests, as they spake of Him of old by types, took “a lamb without blemish.” Jewish prophets, as they spake of Him in their predictions, called Him. “The Righteous (or Holy) Branch.” Apostles, as they wrote about Him, said “He was holy, harmless, undefiled,separate from sinners.” When He was Himself on earth, He could challenge His bitterest foes,” Which of you convicts me of sin.” And soon after His ascension to His throne in the skies, we find Him proclaiming as His name, “He that is Holy, He that is True!”
Remember this. Jesus never could have saved you unless He had been ” glorious in holiness.”
If He had had one sin in Him, you and I must have been lost for ever. Just as one leak in Noah’s ark of old would have sunk it, so one leak of sin in Jesus, the true Ark, “would have plunged us all in the depths of eternal despair. Let us, then, love often to walk round the walls of Kedesh, and think of our “City of Refuge” as ” The Holy Child Jesus.”
And when you ponder His holiness, seek to be holy, as He was. How he hated sin! How He loved to do His heavenly Father’s will! How gentle, and good, and kind He was to all! He never was angry, or passionate,or revengeful. When a youth, at His early home in Nazareth, “He increased in favour with God and man.”
Be like Jesus in His holiness! Let KEDESH be a word written on your hearts! Whenever you are in trouble or difficulty, or temptation, always ask, “How would the Holy Jesus have acted here?”
Written by John Ross Macduff.
Published in 1865.
Edited for thought and sense.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: John Ross Macduff (23 May 1818 – 30 April 1895) was a Scottish divine and a prolific author of religious essays. Born in Bonhard, Scone, Perthshire, Macduff was educated at the University of Edinburgh, and was ordained as minister of Kettins, a parish in Forfarshire in 1843. He returned to St Madoes, a parish in Perthshire in 1849, which he left to take charge of Sandyford, a new church in Glasgow. He preached there for fifteen years (until 1870), and then went to live in Chislehurst, Kent, in order to focus entirely on writing. His best known books were: “The Prophet of Fire”; “Memories of Bethany”: “Memories of Gennesaret”; “The Shepherd and His Flock “: “Sunset on the Hebrew Mountains “; “Comfort Ye”; “The Golden Gospel”; “Morning and Night Watches”; “The Bow in the Cloud”; “The Story of a Dewdrop”; and “The Story of a Shell.” Macduff died in Chislehurst.