Joshua 20: God of Justice
I have written a few times before about the cities of refuge in Israel, and today is another time to do that. Joshua chapter 20 is a discussion between God and Joshua about these cities.
Jos 20:9 These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.
I think that this clearly emphasizes that God is truly a God of justice. I see that particularly in the final part of this verse. The direct purpose of these cities was to allow people who may have unintentionally killed someone a safe place to wait until the trial.
God put this system in place to establish some type of justice. He wanted to make sure that people were not dying unnecessarily. He wanted to make sure that the punishment fit the crime rather than an overreaction by an angry relative.
Although I don’t have a lot of experience with this, I would assume that if a close family member or relative died in some type of accident, it would be incredibly easy to blame whoever was with my relative at that time. That blame can lead to anger which can lead to crimes being committed.
God decided to eliminate this problem. By providing these cities, the justice system had time to work. He wanted people to be accountable for what they did, but he also wanted to make sure that the punishment fit the crime.
This takes us right back to something I wrote a few months ago about the idea of an eye for an eye. God loves justice, and that implies fairness. The punishment cannot be exponentially greater than the crime, and that punishment needs to be done through the legal system and the congregation rather than one person taking the law into his or her own hand.