Read: Joshua 20:1–9

Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, “Say to the Israelites, ‘Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person without intent or by mistake may flee there; they shall be for you a refuge from the avenger of blood.’” Joshua 20:1–3

There are commands in the Bible that are absolutely extraordinary. Setting aside cities of refuge was nothing short of brilliant. The concern that prompted this action was the prevalence of blood feuds. From time to time there would be an accidental death, and the family of the deceased would seek revenge even if the lethal injury occurred without malice. If revenge was successfully taken, it could spiral into a deadly cycle between families, clans, and communities. Thanks to the command of God, both Moses and Joshua recognized the need for cooler heads and clearer thinking to prevail. Therefore, sanctuary cites were set aside where an offending party could go to seek refuge until the rage that accompanied a particular death was quelled. A trial would be held and judgment would still be rendered, but rage would not be allowed to rule the day. Brilliant!

There are plenty of times when anger gets the best of us, and we act too rashly or speak too harshly. In the aftermath, we often wish we had taken a few deep breaths and paused a bit to let our rage abate before taking action or speaking our mind. Rage can prompt us to react in ways we wind up regretting. Taking time to cool down—especially when we don’t want to—can safeguard our relationships, our lives, and our communities.

What do you do when you find yourself filled with anger and contemplating revenge?

Lord, Your word is timeless. The commands of distant yesterdays have a way of speaking to me today. Your divine nature has a way of instructing my human nature. Thank You. And help me to pause and breathe deeply the next time anger is about to get the best of me. I don’t want to be full of rage, for I desire to reflect the best of You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.