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Season of Hope:

Learning to Flee to Jesus

as our Refuge of Hope

Hebrews 6:17-20

Welcome to Calvary, this:

The Season of Hope

This is the Season of Hope because this is when we remember how God sent Hope in the Person of Jesus Christ, God the Son, into our world.

Hope is a Person.

Hope has a Name and it is the Name of Jesus.

Hope is the breath of life for humans so fragile, threatened at any moment by the inevitability of death.

That is why we so desperately need to share these truths in this Season of Hope,

Because God is the God of Hope.

First we need to see from God’s Word that,

Jesus Christ is our Hope

Please turn with me to 1 Timothy 1:1. As we stand to listen to Paul, we will find the answer.

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope.”

The safest spot in the universe is in the embrace of Jesus.

The only way to have assurance of salvation, a strong confidence, and a steadfast hope, is to seek refuge in God by embracing Jesus Christ, who is our only hope of salvation[1].

So more than anything else, know and remember that Hope is a Person named Jesus Christ.



God Wants to Unleash Hope into our Daily Living

Only God can offer real, enduring, and unshakeable hope.

Jesus Christ our hope, is one thought away, one prayer away.

He is as close as a cry, as close as an out stretched hand, or an upturned heart.

Anyone, anywhere can instantly arrive in that safest of all places–from any location.

Turn with me now to Hebrews 6:17-20, and stand as we hear God’s Word read.

Hebrews 6:17-20 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.



Jesus as our Refuge of Hope

Jesus Christ our refuge of hope is the safest spot in the universe.

But how do we get there?

Look at the verses we just read and note one word. Doesn’t it just jump off the page?

Jesus is called a “forerunner” in our Bibles. Have you ever paused to consider that word, and why God chooses this word to describe His Son, Jesus?

The word in v.20, translated “forerunner” is an amazing picture of the person used in ancient times to help a vessel enter the harbor safely.

A brave mariner, often a slave, would jump from the ship, swim through the treacherous waves and water, finally wading into the harbor, and fasten the strong rope of the ship to a rock along the shore. Then, by means of a winch, the vessel was brought in.

Jesus is Our Forerunner

Just so, Jesus our forerunner has gone to heaven, where He stands ready to guide us safely to our Father’s House. We are fastened to Him.

Jesus is the rock that cannot be moved. Let the storms tear our sails to shreds; let the floors creak; let the gusts of wind attempt to blow us off course; let the tides overwhelm us; we shall arrive safely into the port.

Each day we are pulled a notch closer to the harbor by the One who proved He is more powerful than death. Jesus anchors our souls all the way through life, and safely gets us home.

Jesus Anchors our Souls

There is an old hymn that reminds us of that truth, it is in our hymnbooks called “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”. Here is what it says:

“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”

by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus is Our Refuge

Look again at those verses we just read and note another word, “refuge”.

Doesn’t it also just jump off the page?

God’s Word says we find refuge as we are “laying hold of the hope set before us” (v. 18).

What is that hope?

It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

The Greek word in Hebrews that is translated “refuge” (in KJV, NKJV, and NASB) is the same one used in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) in the passages describing the cities of refuge?

The writer of Hebrews is telling us that the only way to experience the power of God that saves us is when we run to Christ in desperation–for refuge to that safest place.

And to understand one of the clearest explanations of entering into the refuge of Christ, turn with me to Joshua 20.

The Old Testament Pictures of Hope

When Israel entered the Promised Land, God gave them a constant reminder of His salvation. This reminder was ordered by God to be set up in the Land as a visible symbol of Him as God their Savior 24/7/365 across the entire land.

What was that reminder? A strategically placed group of six cities called the Cities of Refuge. There is actually a whole chapter of the Bible (Joshua 20) devoted to these cities.

The most beautiful, the most powerful, the most amazing picture of Jesus Christ is tucked away in one of those back corners of the Scriptures.

That picture is one that shows Jesus is always waiting, His arms are always open, the door is never locked—the clearest picture of Christ’s as Savior is seen in the cities of refuge. Please turn back there with me to Joshua 20:7-9 and see this amazing Old Testament picture of Christ Jesus.

“And they [assigned] Kedesh in Galilee in Mount Naphtali, and Shechem in Mount Ephraim, and Kirjath-arba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah. And on the other side [of the] Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh. These were the cities assigned for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger who sojourneth among them, that whosoever
killeth any person without intent might flee the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation.” (Joshua 20:7-9)

Those cities of refuge were wonderful beacons of hope, because: The Cities Were: Easy to Reach

Anyone could access these cities of refuge because they were easy to reach from any place in the country.

God expressly commanded that roads were to be made to these cities (Deut. 19:3).

These cities were accessible. Some of them were located on mounts so as to be even more prominent.

The Cities Were: Open to All

Anyone could access these cities of refuge because they were open to all — to the Israelite, the stranger, and sojourner (Numbers 35:15).

Joshua 20:9 says, “that whosoever killed a person …” (KJV).

Wait a minute. Listen to that again.

What verse sounds like this—that whosoever…” Right!

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

The Cities Were: Never Locked

Anyone could access these cities of refuge because they the great doors of these cities were always left open and never locked.

We can see why.  Otherwise a man might die while beating on the door.

The Cities Were: Completely Sufficient

Anyone could access these cities of refuge because they were a completely sufficient refuge, then, not only providing legal protection, but also meeting a man’s needs once he was inside.

The cities of refuge were completely adequate for the needs of the endangered ones.

So long as the slayer remained in the city, he was safe, and he would be freed when the high priest died.

The Cities Were: The Only Hope

Anyone could access these cities of refuge because there was no other hope.

Note that the slayer is told to flee to the city. Such a person could not afford to delay!

The similarities between the cities of refuge and Christ, our refuge, are striking.

We can compare them point for point.

Christ was portrayed by the Cities of Refuge

Anyone can come to Him for Christ is easy to reach.

We may cast ourselves upon Christ at any time, in any place.  The Church is to be the teller of this good news.  The Church is to cry, “Refuge!  Refuge!” to the lost world.  This emphasis is made at the very end of the Bible in the book of Revelation:

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.  And let him that heareth say, Come.  And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).

So has the Savior placed Himself within the reach of all.

He offers hope even to those in the utmost peril of His wrath.

Jewish tradition declares that there were posts at the cross roads with “Refuge! Refuge!” upon them, pointing out the way.

We Have Hope because: Christ is open to all

Anyone can come to Him for Christ is open to all — the Jew and the Gentile, the Greek and the barbarian, to all people.

Listen to the echoes of Christ’s open arms throughout the Scriptures:  Genesis 3:9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”; Isaiah 45:22 “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other; Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

We Have Hope because: Christ is completely sufficient

Anyone can come to Him for Christ is a completely sufficient refuge.

Christ’s death in space-time history is completely adequate to meet our need for refuge from the true moral guilt which we have.

It is final because of who He is.  He is the infinite second person of the Trinity; therefore, His death has infinite value.  And just as even the suburbs or borders of the city were a sufficient security to the offender.

Numbers 35:26-27 “But if the manslayer at any time goes outside the limits of the city of refuge where he fled, 27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the limits of his city of refuge, and the avenger of blood kills the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of blood.”

So there is virtue even in the hem of Christ’s garment for the healing and saving of poor sinners. If we cannot reach to a full assurance, we may comfort ourselves in a good hope through grace[2].

We Have Hope because: Christ never locks His gates

Anyone can come to Him for Christ never locks His gates.

Jesus told us that He is the Door—and we know that He is the Door that is never shut, never locked, never barred. To the very last words of the Bible is Revelation 22 He is still saying, “Come.”  There is no need to wake Him.  He is infinite; He is God; He is never asleep.  We do not have to beat upon the door and die because He does not open it.  Many have stood by a deathbed and seen sinners believe in the last moments of life.  It is good that there is no gate to unlock and that men can enter quickly. What a picture of Christ! Certainly the “way to the city” is clear! No one need ever wonder how to come to Him, for we come to Him by faith. He will never turn any sinner away (John 6:37). High roads led to each city, and their gates were always open.

We Have Hope because: Christ is the Only Refuge

Anyone can come to Him for if we do not flee to the refuge which God has given to us at such a great price, there is no help for us.

Hebrews relates this negative emphasis to the Old Testament:

“He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:28, 29).

There isn’t one of us who does not stand in that situation.  We have heard the gospel, and if in the Old Testament ignoring God’s law brought death, what about us if we despise the work of Christ and the grace which He showers upon us? Nor can lost sinners today afford to delay in fleeing to the only refuge, Jesus Christ.[3]

Jesus Our Hope Unleashes the God of Hope into Daily Living

So Christ is easy to reach;

His arms are open to all;

His entrance is never locked;

He is a completely sufficient refuge, and

He is the only hope.

How wonderful. But there is so much more as we examine the differences between the cities of refuge and Christ our refuge.  Christ is portrayed by the cities of refuge but He is so much better!

Hymn #

[1]  John MacArthur, Saved Without A Doubt, (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books) 1992.

[2]  Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[3]  Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament, (InterVarsity Press: IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament ) Downer’s Grove, IL.