Redmond Blair, Vancouver
There are a number of cities mentioned or inferred to in this epistle which is full of the greatness and glory of Christ, things which can encourage and cheer us as we move through this passing world on our heavenward journey. What better place can we start at than the first city which comes before us.
The City of Refuge
In Hebrews 6:18 we read the statement, "...who have fled for refuge." The reference no doubt is to the cities of refuge referred to in the Old Testament. Moses instructed the children of Israel, under divine direction that cities of refuge were to be established in the land they were to inherit. Three cities were to be provided on each side of the Jordan, and if conditions prevailed three more were to be added to this number. We never read of this addition, due to Israels failure and disobedience to the Lord. This provision was for the manslayer to find a haven, not the murderer when the avenger would be following to avenge the death of a loved one. Here was a place of refuge where the manslayer was safe, until the anger would cease and the case be heard. Likewise we have found a place of refuge. Death and judgment was on our track, but we have fled to the only safe and blessed refuge, the glorious person of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are safe and secure for all eternity, none can touch us there.
Chapter 7 opens with these words, "For this Melohisedec king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him." The brief appearance of this man, and the blessing he gave are of great significance. Not only was he priest, but also a king. Both offices combined in one man. No other man holds, or has held this place. It is only for the great antitype, Christ. He was king of righteousness, and king of Salem which means peace. Prior to Melchisedec coming out to Abraham, we have the battle of nine other kings, five and four. There is no peace there, and it pictures the history of man, which has been filled with war and bloodshed right until this present day. The cities mentioned, Sodom and the surrounding confederacy, were cities of great wickedness, which came under the judgment of God. Swords and spears were the order of the day. But in contrast we have the tenth king coming out to Abraham, not with weapons of destruction, but with bread and wine. This is a foreshadowing of the Millennial reign of Christ. He will reign in righteousness. It will be a reign of peace. The weapons of warfare will be turned into ploughshares and pruning hooks, to produce the bread and wine of that peaceful reign. They will not learn war anymore. Today He is our peace.
The City which hath Foundations
There are two cities mentioned in chapter 11, and we will deal with the one mentioned above referred to in verse 10, in relation to Abraham, "Who looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Abraham is mentioned in the previous verse as dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob. These men were marked by the pilgrim character. Do we have that character today? In contrast to the tent, a temporary dwelling place, he looked for that which was permanent, a city. I would link this city with the heavenly Jerusalem of chapter 12. There have been many great cities in the history of this world, but they have fallen and vanished. We also read in this chapter that not only will the earth be shaken once more, but also heaven. "And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." In chapter 1:10-12 we read of the Lord laying the foundation of the earth, "But they shall perish and wax old as a garment, and as a vesture shall they be folded up" as something worn out and of no further use. But this city will remain to be the dwelling place of the faithful of old.
"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days." By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace " (vs. 30, 31). Jericho stood as a bastion blocking the way of the children of Israel to enter and take the land. It must fall before they could progress and possess their inheritance. The story of its fall, the spies and the faith of Rahab surpasses any fiction story that man could make up. Those spies came and found refuge in a most unlikely house, the house of an harlot. But here was a woman who saw the danger approaching and took steps to ensure the salvation of herself and her family. She received assurance of safety from the spies. She had the scarlet line of promise hung in the window, through which the spies made their escape. This was the window of hope and promise of a savior and a bridegroom, through which she looked for him to come. Her faith was triumphant. The rest of the inhabitants perished in unbelief. She is brought into the royal line of Christ, something that would seem most unlikely from her background. But grace is the key to this lovely addition, and grace has brought every child of God into the place of nearness and favor. This we rejoice in and give thanks to God.
No Continuing City
We read these words in chapter 13:12-14, "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but seek one to come." The city in view here is the city of Jerusalem. At the time of the writing of this epistle the city was still standing, but was not going to continue. We read of the Lord suffering without the gate. For it was outside the confines of the walls of the city he suffered and died. The call to the Hebrews, and to us as well is, to go forth unto Him without the camp. The camp then was Judaism. The camp today is all the sects and systems of men, copies of obsolete Judaism. The attraction there alone is the glorious person of Christ. It is unto Him, and not unto any other person or place. We can truly sing "Gathered to thy name Lord Jesus losing sight of all but thee." We seek that city to come which shall never crumble nor fall, its walls will never be scaled by any hostile or invading foe. The Lamb will be the light and center of that city that will continue throughout eternal days.