A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

July 7, 2015

"Sanctuary Cities" Vs. Biblical "Cities of Refuge"

     I know the two terms sound alike, and imply similar meanings.  But believe me, nothing could be further from the truth.  Sanctuary cities are a political invention to protect illegal immigrants, while Cities of Refuge are associated with God's true justice.  Here is how they work:
     Sanctuary City is a term given to a city in the United States (or Canada) that follows certain practices that protect illegal immigration. These practices can be by law, or they can just be in effect, by habit (de facto). The term generally applies to cities that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about an individual's immigration status. The designation has no legal meaning, and is a useful political tool for those who wish to benefit from increased numbers of illegal immigrants.
     On the other hand, Cities of Refuge have a clear purpose from a Biblical standpoint.  The Mosaic Law stated that anyone who committed a murder was to be put to death (Exodus 21:14). But for unintentional deaths, God set aside these cities to which the murderer could flee for refuge (Exodus 21:13). He would be safe from the avenger—the family member charged with avenging the victim’s death (Numbers 35:19)—until the case could go to trial. The congregation would judge to find if the attacker acted unintentionally. If he did, he would return to the city of refuge and live there safely until the death of the high priest who was in office at the time of the trial, at which point he could return to his property. If the attacker left the city of refuge before the death of the high priest, however, the avenger would have the right to kill him (Numbers 35:24-28).
    The purpose of these Cities of Refuge was to contemplate the death you had caused (unintentionally) and to hopefully repent of your actions.  Plus there is the reality that these Cities of Refuge could be seen from two different perspectives:  1) They served as a detention center until the killer was brought to justice, as well as a sort of prison where the slayer must stay—even against his will—until the death of the High Priest. So while he benefits from the protection the City provides him from the threat of the blood-avenger, the city also serves as a punishment for him; even if he wishes to leave, he may not.  2)  The City of Refuge is not a punishment, but rather a privilege, and serves as a place of protection for unintentional slayers, each of whom is being pursued by an avenger who seeks to kill him. Society is therefore obligated to shelter these individuals.
     I believe that our modern day concept of Sanctuary Cities are a deviation from this latter understanding.  In fact, there was a “New Sanctuary Movement” that emerged in the 1980s as an expression of the church’s ministry of social justice, often protecting Latin American immigrants escaping civil unrest and political persecution. Many were given shelter and protection in churches across America, and although the government had every right to enter and arrest the suspects, it avoided a dreadful public relations situation by not doing so.
     Now that movement has grown so large, and become such a political reality, that it serves to endanger the lives of every American.  As I stated before, the term “sanctuary city” has no legal meaning; it is typically used to describe local governments that ban police from asking about a person’s immigration status.  And now the numbers of illegal immigrants entering across our southern borders have exploded, and every one of them know to get to a Sanctuary City as fast as they can.  If they are arrested or detained, they know that they will either be released on probation; or if deported, they will soon return and repeat their journey to a Sanctuary City where they are free to live a life of crime without fear of being singled out as an illegal immigrant.  It's simple ... just don't get caught, and you are not bound by the laws of America. 
These illegal immigrants don't even have to stay within the boundaries of the Sanctuary City, as they were required to do in the Biblical City of Refuge.  In fact, they are free to roam across the country, unhindered by our federal immigration laws; and those who seek to do harm to others are often repeat offenders, leaving a swath of crime, destruction, and death.  Case in point:  Kathryn Steinle, 32, who was shot dead in San Francisco this last week by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal Mexican immigrant who was a 7-time felon across multiple states, including: Texas, Oregon and Arizona; had multiple aliases with different birth dates; had an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) "detainer," meaning local authorities were flagged to hold him for immigration violations; and who was most recently released following a marijuana arrest four months ago.
     ICE had marked Sanchez as an 'enforcement priority' who should have been handed over immediately when he was arrested four months ago, but was let go in accordance with San Francisco's "sanctuary city" policy.  But even more disturbing and frightening was Sanchez's comments to a local ABC affiliate that "he came to San Francisco because he knew the sanctuary city would not hand him over to immigration officials."  
     The details of the murder are sketchy ... Sanchez's story has changed multiple times, and he even claims he did not know he had shot and killed someone.  But now, the father of this beautiful woman will be haunted forever by one second in time, when he was walking with his daughter and a friend on Pier 14, and the next minute his daughter lay at his feet, asking him to help her.  How many other stories are there like this across our country?  When will we begin to protect American citizens to the degree that we protect illegal immigrants?  
     The concept of "Sanctuary Cities" is no longer beneficial to the sovereignty and safety of this country.  And there is no definition of "social justice" that can defend the runaway crime that is a result of this misguided domestic policy.  Perhaps we should return to the Biblical concept of Cities of Refuge ... where the killers are brought to justice; and must serve their sentence without the freedom to roam and commit further crimes. 
     You know, Donald Trump may be something of a blowhard; but he is right when he says our southern border is out of control, unsafe, and needs protecting.  When criminals feel free to enter this country and commit crimes, knowing it is unlikely that law enforcement can stop them, that is infuriating enough.  But when Americans are not safe to walk down the street because there is a policy that provides protection to these lawbreakers, then the world is insane.  The innocent blood of the victims is crying out to the Lord for His Justice.  May it soon be administered.

For a detailed report on the death of Kathryn Steinle in the Sanctuary City of San Francisco, click here.

Proverbs 24:24    Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations...


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