【Bible Study】Joshua 20: Designate the Cities of Refuge
Bible Study: Joshua
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 00: Introduction
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 01: You Will Lead The People To Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 02: Anyone Who Seek God Will Also Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 03: God Will Honour His Established Leaders On The Way of Possessing the Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 04: Commemorating the Works of Our God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 05: God is Our Victorious Marshal
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 06: God Has Already Put the Enemy in Our Hands
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 07: The Devoted Things are the Cause of Failure in Spiritual Warfare
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 08: Blessings and Curses Determine Victory and Defeat
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 09: All Who Do Not Resist God Will Survive
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 10: All Those Who Are Enemies of God Will Perish
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 11: Left Nothing Undone
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 12: Live Victoriously on Earth
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 13: There Are Still Very Large Areas of Land to be Taken Over
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 14: Follow God Wholeheartedly, and You Will Acquire the Promises
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 15: Be Bold Enough to Ask God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 16: Enter the Promise Land Need a Resolute Attitude
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 17: Properties are Obtained Through Striving and Seizing it
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 18-19: Inheriting the Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 20: Designate the Cities of Refuge
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 21: Not One of All God's Good Promises Will Fail
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 22: Do you truly trust in God?
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 23: Warning the Israelites the Consequences of Turning Away from God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 24: You Shall Serve God Wholeheartedly
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 25 Conclusion: Serve God Wholeheartedly
Chapter 20 of the Book of Joshua is a very interesting chapter, called: Designate the Cities of Refuge. As a person who leads bible studies, it’s kind confusing. However, careful reading of this chapter is troubling as someone leading Bible study: What is there to share here? I tell everyone that when reading the Bible, we must read what the author wants to tell us.
So, what is God trying to tell us in this chapter? This is a very important matter. After the Israelites entered the Promised Land and divided it, they immediately talked about establishing cities of refuge. Why do they talk about setting up cities of refuge?
Now, let's think about these questions together:
First, why does God want to establish cities of refuge? When answering the "why," everyone needs to understand key Bible verses to support your argument.
Second, right after the land was divided, the first thing they did was establish cities of refuge. If you refer to Genesis 9:6, after Noah left the ark, God said:
And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
“Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind. (Genesis 9:5-6)
Whether it is an animal or a person, the shedding of human blood and taking a life is a very serious matter. If you refer to this passage, what conclusion would you come to? It is to designate cities of refuge to prevent the shedding of innocent blood.
You can go back and read Exodus, specifically Exodus 20:1-17, where it mentions the prohibition against murder. What conclusion can you draw from that? If we look at the establishment of cities of refuge, we can also refer to Numbers 35, where it talks about setting up cities of refuge.
He did so according to the previous command given by God to Moses. Where did God give this command to Moses? It is in Numbers 35. If we focus only on this chapter, it is difficult to find the main theme of this chapter and understand its purpose. However, if we go back to Numbers 35:33-34, you will find:
"So you shall not pollute the land where you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the Lord dwell in the midst of the people of Israel."
Let's think together about the topic of this chapter. The topic of this chapter is to not defile the Promised Land because God dwells in that land.
The establishment of cities of refuge is an interesting aspect. If someone accidentally kills another person, there are various circumstances under which this can happen, such as a car accident or a flying axe while chopping wood. There are regulations regarding such cases.
We may wonder why God did not protect the person who was accidentally killed. Why didn't He prevent such incidents? Can God prevent them? Absolutely, God can prevent them. However, if the person who accidentally killed someone is killed by the avenger of the victim, it becomes a case of shedding innocent blood. The person who caused the accidental death is actually innocent.
Let's consider the strange occurrences of unexplained deaths in this world. I want to tell you that human life and death are closely related to the operation of evil spirits behind the scenes.
How did the person who was accidentally killed die? They died due to an accident, but it may not necessarily be directly caused by the person who accidentally killed them. It could happen elsewhere, and the person who caused the accident was just unlucky. So, the incident of accidental killing itself is spiritually significant, as it involves the manipulation of evil spirits.
Let me give you a few examples:
When I was dealing with devils, I often asked them about the bad things they had done. They would say, "I walked somewhere, saw someone driving a car, and then I blew a breath..." As a result, the person and the car would fall into a valley, with the car destroyed but the person still alive.
However, these incidents are perplexing. How could such sudden accidents happen? If you carefully observe many accidents, you will find that they are often very mysterious. If you watch videos of accident scenes, you will see that the car was driving normally, and suddenly it loses control. We really can't understand how it can suddenly lose control.
We need to understand that a person without God, without His protection, is in great danger. Without God's protection, evil spirits can strike at any time, and it can be fatal. We all need God, not just for a certain period of time, but every day.
One day, I met someone and asked them, "What does it mean to be blessed?" Because the Bible says that if you carefully keep and follow God's word, He will bless the work of your hands. It means that the things you do cannot be touched by the devil because God does not allow it. That's what it means to be blessed. If a person's work is constantly being interfered with by evil spirits, it means they are under a curse. Not all people experience the same things, even though they may think they do. The experiences of blessed people and cursed people are truly different.
Recently, I met someone who asked me, "It's strange. I helped someone with a project, solved their problem, and saved them a lot of money. But I can't collect my fees. Why do I always encounter such unlucky situations? Is there something wrong with my clients?"
I told them that they were mistaken. It's because evil spirits are present in everything they do, and they are causing trouble, resulting in such outcomes. The problem lies with the person themselves. The most important thing in a person's life is what? The most important thing is that the work of our hands is blessed by God.
I explained the matter of accidental killing, but after an incident of accidental killing, if the person responsible is killed by the avenger, it becomes a problem. Why? Because it defiles the land. Once the land is defiled, it becomes impure and cursed, attracting evil spirits.
We need to understand that sometimes it's hard to comprehend. For example, when a murder occurs in a house, after that incident, the house becomes cursed and defiled.
What is the defilement? It's not about the blood that cannot be removed or from a sanitary perspective. It's from a spiritual perspective. If a person is killed in a certain place and their blood is shed there, that place becomes defiled. Defilement doesn't come from a worldly perspective but from a spiritual perspective. It means that evil spirits often operate in that place.
Don't think it's strange when people talk about haunted houses. Don't dismiss the idea of haunted houses. It's a serious matter. It's not because the house we live in is bigger than the one outside. Don't believe what traditional churches say. It's not like that.
Traditional churches say that what's inside me is bigger than what's outside, so try living in a haunted house. It's because God has cursed that place. Once a place is defiled, it becomes cursed. When blood is shed in that place, then there are ghosts in that place. Don't think that ghosts are beyond God's control. Even the Bible doesn't say that the Holy Spirit contends with evil spirits. Evil spirits are no match for God's Spirit.
Evil spirits are created by God because God created all thing beautiful in its time. How can they become good? Because it's not good for there to be no evil spirits. Why? Because God's intention is to sift out the treasures.
People are not all equal. You may be accustomed to saying that everyone is equal, but when you call out for equality, you realize that some people are unlucky while others are blessed. That's just how it is, unfair. Where is the problem? The problem is that God wants to gather His own people into His kingdom and let those who don't belong to Him, those who belong to the devil, be taken away by the devil.
After being taken away by the devil, they fall into the lake of fire and brimstone. So, the devil works diligently, collecting garbage. That's why when we establish a church, it is to gather the treasures into God's kingdom. But the question is, are you one of those treasures? Others cannot make the choice for you. Only you can make the choice. If you choose to be a treasure, be a treasure. If you choose to be garbage, be garbage. It's your own choice.
The shedding of human blood on Earth is a very serious matter. Why does blood get shed? This chapter mentions accidental killing, but besides accidental killing, there is also murder. Why do people commit murder? It's because there are conflicts of interest in this world, and people, for their own interests, are willing to pay the price of shedding blood.
Everyone must start observing: if a certain family's ancestors have the sin of shedding blood, such as committing murder or other sins included in the Ten Commandments, it's very dangerous. Worshiping idols brings curses; killing brings curses; stealing brings curses; bearing false witness brings curses. If you carefully observe these cursed actions, a family that is cursed will have descendants who live very difficult lives, facing many hardships.
Why did God establish cities of refuge? Because He dwells in that land. If a place where God dwells is defiled by someone, then God cannot continue to dwell there. God dislikes dirty and defiled places. It's not about size, whether it's big or small. The whole earth belongs to our God, but if it becomes polluted, God no longer likes it. That's why God established cities of refuge.
Let's delve deeper into an important concept. Why is this place called the Promised Land? When you actually go there and take a closer look, it may not seem extraordinary. I have been to that place, and it's referred to as a land flowing with milk and honey. However, if you watch news about Israel on TV or see stone houses, it doesn't really live up to the description of milk and honey. It's hard to see. But later, I gradually understood that whether or not it is the Promised Land doesn't depend on the place itself, but on the people in that place. If the people in that place have God with them, even if it's a desert, it will flow with springs.
I have a profound experience with this matter. For example, in the Bible, there is a story of Abraham and Lot, the uncle and nephew. Lot's father died, so Abraham took Lot in as his son. After both of them became wealthy, Lot started causing trouble, saying that their shepherds were quarreling, and it was not good for them to stay together. Then Abraham said, "You choose. If you go to the east, I'll go to the west. If you go to the south, I'll go to the north."
As a result, Lot chose a fertile place, and Abraham chose a barren place. Later, God said to Abraham, "I will give this barren place to you as the Promised Land." Ordinary people like us, without the eyes of God, would find it confusing. What kind of place is this so-called land flowing with milk and honey, the Promised Land? It looks desolate. For example, the mounds and hills around Jerusalem, like a desert, how can it be a land flowing with milk and honey? We don't really understand; our perspective fails to see it.
But later, I understood that if God is present in that place, it is called the Promised Land. Because God dwells in that land, among the people of Israel, they should not defile the place they dwell in. That's why the concept of cities of refuge is mentioned. Actually, it means not to defile that land.
By establishing cities of refuge, it prevents more bloodshed. More bloodshed leads to more defilement, and more defilement brings more curses. With more curses, more spirits come to disrupt, and people become increasingly burdened. In truth, if people act for their selfish interests, trying to gain this or that, it is foolish. The most essential thing people need is God's presence.
As long as the place where you stand has God with you, it is called the Promised Land. Where does the promise come from? It comes from God. When you stand in a place, and the work of your hands is blessed by God, it is significant. Why can't we learn to recognize blessings and curses? People often engage in unfair and unjust actions to take advantage of others, and as a result, they bring curses upon themselves. It is impossible for them to thrive. The problem lies in the different logical systems within people.
Let's ask another question: Does killing chickens, pigs, or cows in a place defile the land because their blood is shed? No, it doesn't. Why? This matter is quite interesting. We can refer to Genesis 9:6, which says that shedding human blood is not allowed because humans are created in the image of God. If a person is killed in that place, the land will be defiled, and it is serious. Why does it happen? Because humans bear the image of God.
Therefore, you will understand why God established cities of refuge. It is to prevent the shedding of innocent blood. Accidental killing is innocent. If a place constantly experiences bloodshed, it becomes dire.
We need to understand a concept: What can we conclude from the underlying phenomenon? We can conclude that humans need God in their lives.
During the time of Moses, the Israelites wrote books such as Genesis, Deuteronomy, Numbers, Leviticus, and Exodus, which contained many regulations. For example, if one person's ox killed another person, was that person unlucky? Why did it happen? Who were these books written for?
In fact, if people faithfully obeyed God's words, these things shouldn't have happened. So why did they occur? It's because these people often deviated from God's words. When people deviate from God's words, it's usually to pursue a good life. However, when they deviate from God's words, their lives don't go well, and accidents occur. Frequent accidents can be disastrous.
We should understand one thing: if someone drives a Ferrari and dies, even if the car cost 10 million, 50 million, or even 100 million, it doesn't matter. Once a person's life ends, everything else becomes irrelevant. Whether you did career planning or wrote plans or thought about anything yesterday... it doesn't matter anymore. Once the period is drawn, it's over.
One accident wipes out everything. If a person frequently experiences accidents, perhaps after one accident, instead of a period, only a comma is drawn, meaning they can still live. But if a period is drawn, it's over.
Over the years, I have attended the funerals of two church members who died in car accidents, including one who was a pastor. During this process, I reflected and said, "God, may you have mercy on me and protect me, so that I won't be affected by arrows that fly by day, plagues that roam in the night, and all sorts of strange things. I am willing to serve you well throughout my life. I know that I can't commit crimes or offend you for the sake of my own interests, to the extent of receiving curses."
I said, "God, I understand the concept of blessings and curses. I need your presence. I want every place I step on to become the Promised Land because you are with me!"
So you ask why I serve God so devotedly? It's because I highly value this matter. You ask why I love God so much? Loving God is great! When you love God, evil spirits stay away from you. As for the things we do today, why are they not prospering? It's because evil spirits keep disturbing. You can't surpass the spiritual realm; you think you can determine your future by what you do? No. Only with blessings will there be a future. With curses, even if you go all out, there is no future. It's just like Cain.
Actually, we need to understand that the land we live on is very important. If you want to immigrate to a city, I don't encourage you to go to a place that has experienced severe disasters, such as cities where major earthquakes occurred. Don't go there. Tens of thousands of people died there. Or places where massacres happened, like when Zeng Guofan invaded the capital of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and carried out a massacre. Those places are not good. Where should you go? Go to a blessed place. It may not be as severely defiled as other places and is relatively better.
I think once brothers and sisters understand this, that** humans bear the image of God and shedding human blood defiles the land**, they will comprehend. Those who shed blood are deeply cursed. If you intentionally kill someone, maybe you can escape legal judgment, but you can't escape judgment from the spiritual realm. Therefore, murder is a very serious issue.
During my ministry, sometimes when I served some brothers and sisters, I found that they had evil spirits of a wicked nature. By praying, I could discern that their ancestors had a problem with shedding blood. Can they be set free? Yes, they can be set free. However, they still experienced a lot of harassment from evil spirits.
Therefore, if we hope to receive God's blessings for ourselves and our descendants, we must not be driven by the desire for wealth or other things. We shouldn't frame others through false testimonies or shed blood... these curses are extremely severe, not only for future generations but also for our own generation.
So, brothers and sisters, loving money and the world is a very serious problem. Even if these people love the world and money and commit acts that harm the heavens and go against reason, you will find that even if they are not killed by others, they may be mistakenly killed in accidents. Evil spirits constantly operate in these people. Therefore, shedding human blood is a matter of great consequence.
What do we rely on in our lives? For example, let's discuss the story of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel had different attitudes towards their offerings. I asked my fellow workers a question: what was the key difference? Cain's foundation for living was relying on himself, while Abel's foundation was trusting in God.
Now, even though I trust in God, those who rely on themselves cannot be stopped by anything. That's why Cain killed Abel. Now, don't ask me how a person who loves God so much could be killed. Let's first talk about the act of killing and shedding blood. When blood is shed and a place is defiled, then the one who did it will live a life of extreme suffering. We see Cain living, but we don't see the pain he experienced.
In fact, if a person lives for thousands of years, living in constant fear, labor, and distress, living in pain, agony, and despair, what's the point of living for thousands of years? I don't know what the point would be. So, after studying these lessons, we must know how we should live.
Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations where we have no choice in this world, throughout different eras and in various fields such as careers, government, or business. It's not easy. But today, if you and I live with the purpose of trusting in God, all you need to do is be strong and take courage. We live by trusting in God, and we will never shed blood or defile the place we inhabit. Even if we enter the Promised Land, we will never defile the land we live in. If the land we inhabit is defiled, and the sin becomes great, God will forsake us.
After God departs, the result for the Israelites is a deep curse, being tossed around among nations for over two thousand years. Take World War II, for example. Jewish people around the world were fleeing and had nowhere to go, which was very pitiful. Why did that happen? It's because during the time of Jesus, those who crucified Him said foolish things without knowing what they were doing. They said, "His blood be on us and on our children." It was a terrible situation, and they didn't know what they were saying.
So, what do we do about the sins of our ancestors? It's simple because our sins have already been placed on Jesus Christ. Today, no matter what kind of evil spirit there is, we can be saved and redeemed through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We can completely drive out these demons, and from now on, we can live a holy life in the grace of Jesus Christ.
I believe that throughout our lives, we should pursue God. Some people pursue becoming the wealthiest, but later find that the life of the wealthiest is not easy. Yet, they still pursue wealth, which is strange. Many people pursue becoming scientists or famous individuals, but after achieving that, what's next
Being the wealthiest is not enough, being an emperor is not so great, so what do we need the most? **The most important thing is to have the presence of God with us, and for the ground we tread upon to become a place where we can experience God's promises.
Today, I no longer live by myself. Today, I live by relying on my God. If my God helps me, who can resist me? Do I need to be greedy for money? No. Do I need to act unjustly for personal gain? No. I live by trusting in God's promises. No matter how desolate or terrible the conditions may be where we stand, the ground we tread upon is called the Promised Land because we have the presence of God with us. God dwells among us, and that is the most important thing.
For example, many people establish churches, but once the church is built, there is no presence of God. Some people say, "Yesterday, I saw Jesus." But if there is no presence of God, what use is it to see Jesus? It is of no use. Many people pursue seeing this or that, but if you pursue having the presence of God and everything you do with your hands will be blessed. However, understanding this blessing is not easy.
If you want to know what it means to be blessed, read Deuteronomy 28:1-14. If you want to study what it means to be blessed, I encourage you to read my exegesis on Deuteronomy titled "Blessing and Curse." It is a two-volume book. In Deuteronomy, it is stated that if we carefully obey and observe the commands, statutes, and commandments of the Lord our God, we will be blessed.
*If we are blessed, we should have the appearance of being blessed. So, what do we ultimately rely on in our lives? This is very important. The Bible continually describes two types of people: those who rely on their own hands, their swords, their efforts, their talents, and end up cursed, and those who rely on God's blessings, promises, and grace, and end up blessed. Which one will you choose?
Let me share a story I witnessed. Once, while I was out ministering, there was a child. This little girl was very obedient, going to school and coming back home every day. However, one day her classmate, on her way back home, she was raped and killed by someone and thrown into a ditch by the road. After the police found her body, the girl became extremely afraid every time she passed by that ditch on her way to school and back. Not long after, the child contracted meningitis, which cost a lot of money and left her with severe aftereffects, with her body convulsing. I wanted to cast out the demons from the child.
Later, I found out that the parents of this child were Christians, but they were not good Christians. They thought, "I need to work hard and don't have time to believe in the Lord! I need to make money!" But in the end, they didn't earn money, only a heap of troubles, and the child died.
But did this couple learn a lesson from this incident? I hope they did. Why did such a thing happen? Such things occur because we as humans go against the words of God.
Today, are we willing to live by God's words? If you believe that the spiritual realm is real and that Jesus Christ is the highest authority in the spiritual realm, what do you rely on in your life? As for me, I live by carefully obeying and following God's words. Let us not defile the land we dwell in for the sake of ourselves or our lives, money, and interests. Instead, let us live according to God's words.
Yes, we have already obtained the Promised Land. It wasn't originally ours, but we acquired it. We fought for it, we were victorious, and we obtained this Promised Land. Now, can you continue to carefully obey and follow God's words to guard this Promised Land? If you can, that is an enormous grace. However, the problem is that as people go through life, they forget. But in reality, we live by relying on God's words.
We think that we live by taking advantage or doing strange things. You might say, "I haven't killed anyone, I haven't shed blood." But does not shedding blood make you holy? No, it doesn't. Shedding someone's blood will certainly bring curses, but even if you haven't shed blood, if you carry within you a strong worldly logic and go against God's words, you will not be subject to one curse but many.
I urge you to seriously consider one thing: how should we guard the promise after we obtain it? This is a matter of life and death. Throughout our lives, we must know that there is nothing better than God in this world. Therefore, I encourage you to carefully obey and follow God's words and, according to His revelation, establish a glorious church on this earth and become a blessing to all nations and peoples.
May God bless you all!