The Woodsman’s Story

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The two men in this story, back in Bible times, were in a forest where trees grew tall and had strong, wooden trunks, with green leaves at the top. They were the same as the trees we have today. God never changed His method of making trees or people or animals, because He made them right the first time.
Each of these woodsmen had an axe, and each man planned to chop down a tree. Maybe the wood from these two trees was going to be used for building something or maybe it would be burned as fuel for cooking fires or keeping warm. But here’s what happened.
One man raised his axe with a mighty upward swing of his arms, and, without warning, the head of his axe flew off and struck and killed his friend instantly! There was no hope for the woodsman lying on the ground  ...  he was dead!
The man swinging his axe never intended to do this. It was an accident. But how was he going to prove it?
There were no police in those days — only a person called “the avenger of blood.” This person might be the dead man’s father or brother. And as soon as the dead woodsman’s relative knew that his son or brother had been killed, he would be very angry and begin looking for the person who was responsible.
We do not know the thoughts that went through “the avenger’s” heart, but we all know something of the angry thoughts in men’s hearts today. Men’s hearts have not changed. Anger was active then, and anger is just as active now.
How was the poor woodsman going to escape? He knew his dead friend’s angry relative would be looking for him to kill him in return.
However, God knew all about this before it happened, and He had made a plan for people who had accidentally killed someone. God chose six cities in the land of Israel, and they were called “Cities of Refuge.” Today we might call them “Cities of Protection.” God made sure that there was a good road to each of those cities, and everybody knew about them.
“Run, man, run! Don’t waste a second! If the avenger’s relative finds you before you get to the protection of one of these cities, he might kill you!”
The woodsman would be safe inside the closest city of refuge until the judges met together to find out if he really planned to kill his friend or if it was an accident. What would the decision be  ...  yes or no? Of course, the judges could make a mistake, but in most cases it was clear  ...  the killer must die! But the man whom the judges decided had killed accidentally would be safe in the city of refuge, and no one could harm him. How long would he be safe? Until the death of the high priest. Then he could go home again safely.
Can you put yourself in that story? We are sure God wrote it for you and me, because Romans 15:44For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4) tells us, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.” Have you ever sinned because you wanted to, even when you knew it was wrong? Then RUN! Don’t waste a second!
But where shall I run? There is no city of protection now, and I know God is angry with me!
Here is the biggest surprise of the story. You have sinned against God, so run to the very God you have sinned against! He will welcome you with open arms, because He gave His Son to die in your place. You will be safe forever, because God Himself will have no punishment for you since He loved you enough to pour that punishment upon His Son Jesus. It was “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:2020I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)).
If you are without Jesus as your Saviour, God’s judgment will find you unprotected, and God will not make any mistake.
Think About God’s Word!
1. How did God provide for people who had accidentally killed someone?
2. In Luke 23:3434Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:34) the Lord Jesus says something very marvelous. How does it make it possible for us to think of running to Him for refuge from the judgment we deserve?
Project: When Peter preached in the Book of Acts, he gave the Jews a chance to run to the Lord Jesus as their “city of refuge” by treating their sin of crucifying their Messiah as a “sin of ignorance.” Can you find the reference where he does this?