Bible Insights

Should Church Be a Safe Place, Like a City of Refuge, in the Bible?

If We Don’t Protect the Innocent from Retribution, Who Will?

God tells Joshua to establish cities of refuge, a safe place for people to seek sanctuary. The specific context is that a city of refuge is a place for people to go if they accidentally kill someone.

Once these people make it to the city of refuge, they are legally protected from retaliation sought by the avenging relatives of the person killed. As long as they stay in the city of refuge, they are safe.

We don’t have cities of refuge anymore, but sometimes people do seek sanctuary in churches. Though I’ve never personally seen this happen, I have heard stories of it occurring. I wonder if seeking sanctuary in church should happen more often?

Certainly churches shouldn’t harbor the guilty from receiving judgment, but what about protecting the innocent from injustice?

What about offering a safe haven to those people wrongly pursued or protecting those folks pummeled by prejudice?

Sadly this may be too much of a stretch for many church attending people to bear.

They want their churches as sanctuary for them—but not so much for those on society’s fringe; “let them fend for themselves,” they say (or think) or perhaps “your problem is not my problem.

However, this is selfish. The church needs to be a safe place for everybody, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. It needs to be like a city of refuge.

We have a long way to go to make this happen.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Joshua 19-21, and today’s post is on Joshua 20:2-3.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.


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