•  8 min. read  •  grade level: 9
W. Brockmeier
It is a poignant paradox that this very city Hebron, which God once ordained for refuge, now stands as an unofficial monument to the massacre of innocents. It was one of six cities of refuge God provided under. Mosaic law for the protection of individuals who inadvertently killed their fellowman. Numbers 35, Deuteronomy 19 and Joshua 20 give the particulars of their locations, qualifications for entry and conditions for asylum.
The name Hebron means communion. As there is no refuge for the sinner from the judgment of God except the blood of Christ, so there is no refuge for the saint from sin and its far-reaching consequences but by abiding in communion with Christ. Hebron is mentioned in several different contexts in Scripture, yet each instance may be profitably viewed as figurative of the believer's privilege of communion with his Lord. While it was not until Israel was settled in their inheritance that Hebron was specifically identified as a city of refuge, its typical bearing remains Constant.
Abram's Altar
Material abundance effected strife and division between Lot and Abram. Selflessly, Abram deferred to Lot, who separated himself from his godly uncle. Abram walked by faith; Lot by sight. (See Gen. 13; 2 Cor. 4:1818While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18); Hell. 11:8-10.) Lot, governed by the lust of the eye, set his heart upon the plain of Jordan (typical of death) which was well-watered everywhere, even as the garden of the Lord. Delusive mirage!
Following Lot's departure, the Lord appeared to Abram, directing him to lift up his eyes—Lot had no such word—to view the scope of his inheritance. Settled in his soul with God's assurances, Abram relocated his tent to the plain of Mamre in Hebron (communion), a striking contrast to Lot's choice. The place of blessing is always and only found in communion with the Lord.
Lot, who had moved into a house in Sodom, was subsequently taken captive. Abram, abiding in the place of God's blessing and unfettered by the pursuit of earthly gain, was prepared to recover "his brother" (Gen. 14:1414And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. (Genesis 14:14)). Detached entirely in spirit from the rebellion and greed characteristic of man's day, Abram refused the proffers of the King of Sodom, even to a thread or a shoe latchet.
His example should encourage us to wait upon God and accept blessing from His hand rather than forge ahead without a word from Him. As we abide in communion with the Lord, we will revel in His blessing that "maketh rich" (Pray. 10:22), respond in true worship, and be fitted by our Master for devoted and intelligent service.
Caleb's Inheritance
It seems appropriate that Caleb received Hebron as his inheritance (Joshua 15:1313And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. (Joshua 15:13)). In spirit he had lived at Hebron during the wilderness journey and thus had not fallen into flagrant sin, nor under God's chastening hand as did the multitudes. Caleb's view of the land (compare with 2 Car. 12:4) undoubtedly sustained him and encouraged him forward despite being surrounded by murmurers. Desert travel is neither pleasant nor easy, yet the vision of faith will enable us to endure as we approach that eternal day of unbroken communion with our Lord Jesus Christ (Prov. 29:1818Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18); Heb. 11:2727By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27)).
Samson's Shortcoming
Self-confidence coupled with the lust of the flesh led to Samson's demise. Raised up by God to be a deliverer, he instead became a Philistine captive. Samson was more of an escape-artist than a conqueror. Living for himself, he eventually fell victim to his cavalier ways and gained deliverance only by death.
The character of Samson's life and his failures are perhaps capsulated symbolically in the incident in which, after a sinful tryst, he carried the gates of the city tea hill which stood before Hebron (Judges 16:33And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron. (Judges 16:3)). Perhaps he was content merely to have Hebron within view; regardless, he never made it there.
Deliverance from sin without repentance is only outward and short-lived. Strength of character and personal discipline may temporarily free us from certain vices, but such can never restore our souls or bring us to Hebron. We need God. "He restoreth my soul" (Psa. 23:33He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (Psalm 23:3)).
David's Exaltation
Is there not a word in this for ourselves? As we consider what has come about in the Christian testimony, is it not God's mind for us to move to Hebron rather than continually occupy ourselves and our households with a scene of slaughter?
In Hebron David was anointed king over Judah and at a later time over all Israel (2 Sam. 5:33So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord: and they anointed David king over Israel. (2 Samuel 5:3)). When we are in communion, and only then, will we render to the Lord Jesus His rightful place. It is here, too, that we can be of positive encouragement to others. To feed upon the ruin and failure of the first man only withers and enfeebles the soul. God would have our hearts occupied with the excellencies of the second Man, the Lord from heaven. How much have we considered Him today?
Absalom's Takeover
Although not anointed king, Absalom rose tip to wrest the reins of administration of Israel from his father. David's laxity with his sons surely contributed to the sorrowful state in the kingdom. Yet he was still God's anointed king and his failures, grievous though they were, did not entitle Absalom to lay claim to the throne.
Absalom stole—notice Scripture does not say "won," as in Proverbs 11:3030The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)—the hearts of the men of Israel by posturing himself as possessing greater sensitivity to their needs than David. In actuality, his maneuvers were components of a larger scheme designed to capitalize on the people's simplicity and ultimately thrust him into a position of political ascendancy. By repeated, denigrating jabs at David as an out-of-touch and uncaring leader, Absalom fueled the fire of discontent. Fifty men who led his well-orchestrated public relations campaign coordinated their efforts with the spies who, working behind the scenes, had infiltrated every tribe of Israel Finally the momentum of his conspiracy crested, the trumpet sounded, and Absalom was declared king in Hebron.
Paul refused to have dominion over the Corinthians' faith, or, in the spirit of this passage, he refused to reign in Hebron. Being an apostle, he could have invoked his authority over them, but instead he sought to stir their consciences by bringing before them their responsibility to God. By faithfully ministering the truth—not fables—he was a helper of their joy. This is true Christian ministry. It is by faith we stand, not by human persuasion and reason (2 Cor. 1:2424Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. (2 Corinthians 1:24)).
May we value leaders God has raised up for the good of the assembly, but reject outright any man that seeks to bring us into bondage (2 Cor. 11:2020For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. (2 Corinthians 11:20)). We have been bought with a price and are not to be the servants of men (1 Cor. 7:2323Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. (1 Corinthians 7:23)),
Rehoboam's Defense
Admittedly, Solomon's idolatry was the root cause of the tribes of Israel being divided (1 Kings 11:30-3630And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: 31And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: 32(But he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) 33Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father. 34Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant's sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: 35But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. 36And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. (1 Kings 11:30‑36)), yet Rehoboams unwarranted threats were the immediate cause for the breakup of the kingdom. Following the breach, it appears Rehoboam still had not comprehended that unity is not produced by human force, but by the power of the Spirit of God (1 Kings 12:2121And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. (1 Kings 12:21); Zech. 4:66Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6); Eph. 4:33Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)).
Shemaiah's prophetic word from Jehovah that "this thing is from Me" caused every man to return to his house. It was at this point Rehoboam built fifteen cities of defense in Judah, of which Hebron was one. These strongholds were each supplied with food, oil, wine, shields, spears and captains. These items each have a spiritual counterpart and we do well to attend to their application in our personal lives and in the assembly. In so doing we will "strengthen the things which remain" and manifest we have "understanding of the times.”
Our Perfect Example
The Lord Jesus was always in communion with His Father. True, it couldn't have been otherwise, but it is a wholesome occupation to trace His path through this sad world and see a man who always dwelt in the bosom of the Father. He was in such concert with His Father that He could say, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works" (John 14:1010Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10)).