Cut `Em Off At The Cross Part II
n the initial installment of the present exposition, I noted the rather ironic similarity of the title phrase to the now trite dialogue, featured in dozens of Western films, wherein the Sheriff and a deputized posse, chasing some miscreants, race on horseback to "cut `em off at the pass."
I also noted how the Old Testament carries a statement wherein the LORD reveals His indignation abides upon those who sought to cut off the escape route of those He has chosen, as the sinners attempted to position themselves in a place of refuge, which is identified in the text as an intersection called the Crossway:
"Neither should thou have stood in thecrossway, to cut off those of his that did escape…" (Obadiah 1:14).
However, there are additional layers of prophetic parallels, for the laws of Moses also carried provisions under which some could physically escape the consequences of severe violations of the Mosaic system. These stipulations were largely engineered for the benefit of one who had inadvertently caused the death of another – and the agency of this deliverance was found in a place known as a City of Refuge.
In Old Testament Israel, someone who had killed another came under the broad based "eye for an eye" formula for punishment and, in that context we see a party known as the Avenger of Blood appears as the instrument of judgment. As might be expected, those who intentionally murdered someone, would periodically try to flee to one of these cities of refuge, but the protection was to be denied if the killing was intentional:
"But if any man hate his neighbor, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities; then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die" (Deuteronomy 19:11,12).
On the other hand, when a repentant person, who had been a party to an accidental death, fled the Avenger of Blood to one of six designated Cities of Refuge, he was to be afforded protection through the office of the high priest:
"And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver the slayer up into his hand; because he smote his neighbor unwittingly, and hated him not beforetime. And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come into his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled" (Joshua 20:5,6).
As most believers know, the New Covenant of Jesus Christ tells us all the things which occurred in Old Testament Israel, were shadows of the eternal grace which was opened up to all who could receive the LORD's truth in the New Testament:
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (I Corinthians 10:11).
Under the Old Covenant, God had installed six cities of refuge, and they were closely associated with the Levitical priesthood – thus, the provision of protection was tied to the person of the high priest in each of the cities of refuge:
"These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither" (Numbers 35:15).
We also see that if the fugitive were to leave the city, and the divinely ordained protection afforded through the office of the high priest, he became fair game for the Avenger of Blood:
"But if the slayer of shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; and the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of his blood…." (Numbers 35: 26, 27).
Those students of Scripture who recognize the heavenly engineering found in the Word of God, understand the numeric significance of six cities – for the symbolism is widespread. Man was made on the sixth day, and it can easily be demonstrated the number is associated with human effort, as it falls short of the seventh day – a supernatural signature characterizing the rest found in the LORD.
The Scriptures repeatedly show the eternal rest found in JESUS CHRIST is anticipated in the Sabbatarian formula (as opposed to a reversion to the rigidity found in the Old Testament requirements to keep the Sabbath), and this is a far larger issue than most realize. Once we realize the six Cities of Refuge are superceded by the seventh "city" – which is found in the perfect peace available through the LORD Himself – we are in a position to recognize the mathematical formula was engineered to lead us to Christ:
"For we which have believed do enter intorest…for he spoke in a place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works…" Hebrews 4:3,4).
This seventh "City of Refuge" is also characterized in prophecy as New Jerusalem, which is mystically occupied by Christ Himself:
"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof" (Revelation 21:23).
This glorious, eternal City of Refuge is entered into at a place the prophet Obadiah calls the "Crossway," which is to say the way of the cross. As God has opened the door to all who would escape the Avenger of Blood, which is but a prefiguring of the Wrath of God, any and all who would refuse others entry through the Crossway become the object of the indignation of the LORD:
"But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger…neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity…" (Obadiah 1:12, 13).
As stated in Part I of Cut `Em Off At The Cross, these prophecies, and many more related verses which I've yet to cover, are almost universally ignored, or widely misread, as the blind guides of our day refuse to receive the things of the Spirit. The problem is one of identity, for most believers in our generation are taught to designate identities based on physical, literal, and even racial parameters, when clearly all Old Testament prophecy unfolds to point us to the kingdom of God.
The Cities of Refuge had literal place names, as did the tribes of Israel who hosted them. The Old Testament priesthood was comprised of literal Levites, who had specific names. Obadiah tells us those who stood in the "Crossway" to stop those who were escaping the great Calamity were Edomites, and Judah and Jerusalem are mentioned as well; but the Kingdom of God, which all these prophecies point us to, is not a physical place, with latitude and longitude.
The temple in the midst of that ultimate City of Refuge is not made of bricks and mortar, or even literal gold and silver. The rest that is found in such a wonderful, eternal locale is not temporal or emotional, as it is a higher, divinely ordained dimension of rest. Thus, those who enter in to the Crossway, as well as those who seek to impede the path of those who are trying to escape God's wrath in that great "Valley of Decision" (Joel 3:4), cannot be designated by physical identities.
This means that all the place/names and identities seen in the Old Testament, have supernatural coordinates which are not of this world. Thus, when the LORD says He will have eternal enmity against a people identified as Edom, there must be a Spiritual, eternal identity in view – as opposed to a blood hatred originating in heaven:
"And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste…and they shall call them…the people against whom the Lord hath indignation for ever" (Malachi 1:3,4).
The same is true of the LORD's glorious blessing upon the name of Israel, or the "seed of Abraham," for that identity clearly leads us to "the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13), and those who are in Him:
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (I Peter 1:23).
These verses punctuate the ominous fact that if we apply physical identities to what the LORD clearly reveals is a Spiritual, heavenly paradigm, we are walking in darkness, and the truth is not in us.
Worse yet, we could be among those who are standing in the Crossway and, thinking we do God service, are effectively blocking the way of His own who are seeking to enter in at the way of the cross.
"Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape…For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head" (Obadiah 1:15).
--- James Lloyd
(To Be Continued)
A further look at the issue of just who we are in Christ is seen in the James Lloyd book entitled RECOGNIZING CHRISTIAN IDENTITY.