First Fly


I saw my first fly trapped in the house today.  I’m sure it won’t be the last.  However, I believe it merits a verse of its own.

First fly of the year
Spirals, swoops and dives.  From here
You look like freedom.

I read about cities of refuge in the book of Joshua today.  I know the haiku seems unrelated, but stay with me.

Joshua 20 outlines the parameters for cities of refuge.  If you’ve read this book before, you know Joshua set up cities of refuge for people to flee to when they accidentally murdered someone.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Now tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed Moses. Anyone who kills another person accidentally and unintentionally can run to one of these cities; they will be places of refuge from relatives seeking revenge for the person who was killed.

“Upon reaching one of these cities, the one who caused the death will appear before the elders at the city gate and present his case. They must allow him to enter the city and give him a place to live among them. If the relatives of the victim come to avenge the killing, the leaders must not release the slayer to them, for he killed the other person unintentionally and without previous hostility. But the slayer must stay in that city and be tried by the local assembly, which will render a judgment. And he must continue to live in that city until the death of the high priest who was in office at the time of the accident. After that, he is free to return to his own home in the town from which he fled.” – Joshua 20:1-6

I always liked this idea.  But accidental killing, I must admit, is a foreign concept to me.  But it wouldn’t be to the Israelites.  They killed and grew their own food.  They worked with sharp objects on a regular basis.  They used slingshots and bows and arrows.  We don’t.  Well, *I* don’t.  I get my meat at the supermarket.  Or a from a guy in a van.  Whatever.

So you accidentally decapitate your neighbor.  You know your neighbor has 3 brothers who will be after you in a heartbeat, seeking retribution. You must away.  Now.  (Insert Christopher Cross song here). You have three choices on each side of the Jordan, three on the east bank and three on the west bank. You present your case upon your arrival to the new city.  No hiding out, no fugitive status here .  You will be tried there. No matter if you come up guilty, you have protection.  Essentially, you’re under town arrest.  You can’t leave.  You’re like the fly in my poem.  You can fly only so high and so far until you hit a wall…or a window.  Once the high priest who was in office at the time dies, you can return to your home town.  The high priest’s death, in effect, exonerates you.

I like this because everything is out in the open.  I don’t suppose the folks who lived in those towns appreciated the idea of possible man-slaughterers living among them.  “Not in my backyard!” comes to mind.  But the mercy of God shows up here. I’m hoping the people in each of these towns learned to have some, too.  I’m afraid I have no pity for our fly.

I think about our high priest, Jesus.  He died to cover our sins.  His death frees us from living under the arrest of our own sin-tax.  The wages of sin is death.  Now we can live free forever.  And we can tell the world about this.

But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. – Hebrews 10:12

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