Fleeing to a City of Refuge

On my car ride into work today I listened to Joshua 20 as one of the    selected chapters for my daily dive into the Word. This chapter is about the Cities of Refuge throughout the Kingdom of Israel, where one who accidentally killed someone could flee without fear of being taken and killed for vengeance in the eye for an eye punishment laid out in Exodus.

As I was listening to this, it occurred to me that these cities and this specific type of asylum had been brought up multiple times before in the bible. These cities or the idea behind them are all described Exodus 21: 12-14, Numbers 35: 11-24 and Deuteronomy 19:3 before we get to Joshua. With the sudden realization of this repetition and the idea that everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus, I started to think about what this meant.

Starting with the obvious, Jesus: He was killed, however his death wasn’t accidental. It was planned since the beginning of time. Those crying out for his blood could not seek this asylum even if they wished to, and in an abstract sense, they did pay with their blood in AD 70 when the Romans came through and wiped out the temple in Jerusalem, fulfilling eye for an eye punishment. But we know that it was because of Jesus’ sacrifice, that we have a path to heaven and forgiveness through His grace.

If you accept the Lord into your heart, and trust in Jesus, then path to heaven is clear, much like the roads that lead to the cities of refuge. These roads were twice as wide and smoother than normal roads to make travel to the cites as unhindered as possible, this is according to the Talmud, to which I admit, I have not read but did come across that description while researching this essay.

But the path we’re on is not always clear and easy, is it? There are obstacles. There is the enemy. There is sin. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he teaches that the wages of sin is death, and while someone may not die due to my being prideful of the new television hanging up on my wall, there is a degree of spiritual death in sin. It’s not purposeful. I’ve gotten a new toy and I’m excited about it. I tell all sorts of people about it. The size, the picture clarity, features, etc. It’s boasting, and I don’t even realize it’s happening until after the fact. What happens when someone gets a bigger TV, or a newer one than mine? Will I be envious? Probably. It’s in our nature, and it’s another sin. Something else that comes naturally, and is unintended. Another accidental killing off of a part of my spiritual being.

Now look back to Jesus. He showed us death is overcome. We too can and will overcome death. He laid out an obvious path that is clear and easy to see. Our walk with the Lord is our own walk along the wide road to the city of refuge fleeing all of the spiritual manslaughter that takes place on a daily basis in each of our lives. The Lord commanded that once the perpetrator arrived at the city he was to tell the elders what happened and why he needed their refuge. Someday too, I will arrive in heaven, and present to the Lord all I have done. He will find a place for me in his kingdom of refuge.

Undocumented in the military

USA Today article about letting illegal immigrants join the US military

What rights do illegals have?
Does an illegal have the right to ‘rights’?
When do these rights begin?

The answer is…

There is a God, our rights come from him. The purpose of civil government is to protect those rights. This is the American understanding of the purpose of law and government which comes from the Declaration of Independence.

There are other views of governments purpose, such as to make sure everyone has their seatbelt on, wearing a helmet, access to affordable healthcare, a mortgage, free money and a cell phone, etc. That’s not the American view I would argue. Check the declaration. It’s not a revolutionary concept. It’s a restoration of ancient rights.

These are foolish things that are happening these days. The govt is being held in lower esteem everyday because of decisions like allowing non citizens aka “illegals” to join the military. How about joining the country first? We have a process that worked for a couple hundred years. If you aren’t a citizen or naturalized (previously a non-citizen granted citizenship ) you are a visitor.

Should the military be giving these visitors firearms? Fully automatic tactical ones?

Shouldn’t the citizens be granted these rights first?

Anyone know what they do with people who ask too many questions?


Who gets the glory?

Psalm 109:26 Help me, O Lord my God;
Save me according to Your lovingkindness.
27And let them know that this is Your hand;
You, Lord, have done it..

30 With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord;
And in the midst of many I will praise Him.
31 For He stands at the right hand of the needy,
To save him from those who judge his soul.


Our purpose, like all of creation,  is to bring glory to God. When we pray, let’s be clear that God will help us, that we may glorify Him.  May we never forget that after he helps us, we are to give thanks and praise him in the midst of many.  Praise God for revealing this to us.

Prayer is our primary battleground

Engaging in Spirtual Battle through Prayer

Paul says in 1Cor 15:46 that the natural comes first, then the spiritual. Deuteronomy 20 instructs the Israelites regarding how to go into battle against natural (physical) enemies. This came up on my ipod shuffle about a week ago, just a few days prior to our prayer meeting at church. I think my iPod shuffle is directed by the Holy Spirit!

Deuteronomy 20: 1-8 (interspersed with my comments marked by “–“)

When you go out to war against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and an army larger than yours, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you.

— The Lord likewise brought us out of slavery to sin

When you are about to engage in battle

— Make note of this phrase it is going to come up again and again,

the priest is to come forward and address the army.

He is to say to them: “Listen, Israel: Today you are about to engage in battle with your enemies. Do not be cowardly. Do not be afraid, alarmed, or terrified because of them. For the Lord your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

The officers are to address the army, “Has any man built a new house and not dedicated it? Let him leave and return home. Otherwise he may die in battle and another man dedicate it. Has any man planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy its fruit? Let him leave and return home. Otherwise he may die in battle and another man enjoy its fruit. Has any man become engaged to a woman and not married her? Let him leave and return home. Otherwise he may die in battle and another man marry her.

— The battle is serious – when you become a THREAT to the enemy, you become a TARGET. We need to be prepared when we enter into spiritual battle, both for the battle itself and for the wrath of the enemy after we plunder his camp.

The officers will continue to address the army and say, “Is there any man who is afraid or cowardly? Let him leave and return home, so that his brothers’ hearts won’t melt like his own.”

— We need to approach God and the work of prayer with hearts of confidence, boldness and faith, as Hebrews 10:22 says “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from and evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.”. Lets pray with confidence, knowing that HE WANTS TO SHOW HIS POWER IN RESPONSE TO OUR FAITH!

After hearing this passage from Deuteronomy 20, my thoughts immediately went to Ephesians 6, which talks about the armor of God. At first I thought to myself, hmmm if prayer is spiritual battle, why aren’t there any pieces of armor that deal specifically with prayer? Then I turned to Ephesians 6 and found a surprise.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness of the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

OK so here I am I’m all decked out in my armor. What’s next? Everybody seems to stop here – but Paul goes on!!!

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel… PRAYER IS THE BATTLE!

Likewise Paul gives instruction to Timothy: 1Timothy 1:18, 2:1, 2:8

Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by them you may strongly engage in battle

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for EVERYONE

Therefore, I want THE MEN in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without wrath and without doubting.

Contrary to popular opinion, prayer isn’t just for little old ladies. Prayer is the primary battleground for the MEN of the church. We need to equip ourselves for spiritual battle and fight like men!

May the eyes of your heart be enlightened

In Ephesians 1:15-21, the apostle Paul gives keen insight into his prayer life:

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the is incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

I had a conversation with someone recently, who as we were discussing the faith of Peter when he grabbed a totally crippled man by the hand and raised him up, declared “I wish I had more faith”. The preceding passage came to my mind immediately. I find it interesting that Paul didn’t pray for the believers in Ephesus to have more faith. Rather, he prayed that God would open the eyes of their heart. He says elsewhere that “we walk by faith and not by sight”.

In 2Kings 6:15-17, Elisha’s servant is literally freaking out as a great enemy army encircled the city where they were staying. Like Paul, Elisha didn’t pray “Oh Lord give him more faith”. Instead, he prayed “open his eyes”, and the servant was able see into the spiritual realm (i.e. the REAL reality) and the vast superiority of the heavenly armies. Sometimes I think we mistakenly see faith in terms of quantity — something we either have a lot of or a little of, and we wish we had more. I think faith is a by-product of having the eyes of our heart opened to “see” the heavenly realities. Faith came easy to Elisha’s servant once his eyes were opened. Jesus himself said “if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you”. Clearly here Jesus is saying it is not about quantity, as a mustard seed is the tiniest of all seeds.

I think our problem is that we are looking at situations with the WRONG SET OF EYES. As Pastor Duke says, we need to be “seer throughers, not looker at’ers”. May the eyes of your heart be enlightened to see into the realities of the spiritual realm, which are far more real and lasting than what we see with our natural eyes. I think this may be one very important key to increased faith.

Ignorance and Lies about Religion

In his speech, Obama said “ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. ”

This sentence is wrought with lies and falsehoods.  First of all, the first two letters in their acronym, and currently their name of themselves is ISLAMIC STATE.   I think he was trying to say that ISIL is not controlled by Islam, but is using the name without the cooperation of the people who belong to the religion.  He so overstated the point that he lied.  His second sentence is even more shocking:  “No religion condones the killing of innocents?”  Really? History is riddled with examples making this entirely untrue.   The Bible mentions many times ‘walking his son through the fire’ and the like, which is slaughter of innocent children.  Demons desire destruction of all of God’s creation, as illustrated by them running the pigs over the cliff after Jesus cast them out.  If you want more examples http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sacrifice .  In fact, even in Judaism, God on multiple occasions instructed the Jews to utterly destroy all life in communities that had forsaken Him.   It is difficult for us to see this as just, but who are we to argue with the God of the universe?  Back to this particular case, Islam fundamentalists obey the Koran, and whether out of context or not, the Koran gives instruction to kill the infidels.   Whether it be true Islam (which Christianity views as doctrine of demons to begin with), or whether your view is that Satan has corrupted this otherwise ‘peaceful’ religion, there is no mistaking that ISIL/ISIS/Islamic-State is PART of Islam.  Stop lying about religions, and trying to make excuses for the Islamic nations around the world who refuse to denounce ISIS.  Already, Germany and other European nations are outlawing support for this group.  It is only a matter of time before the world begins crusades not seen since responding to the Ottomans.  Taking no response but talking, like Prime Minister Chamberlain, will only encourage more to join the modern-day-nazi-party called ISIS.  Thankfully we, the USA, are not doing absolutely nothing.  However, denying the truth about ISIS, and covering up the history of religion, will not help anything.

Santayana was right. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

Protest feud — nobody seems to be winning this one

Here’s a story about a church that has been demonstrating in front of a Coshocton, Ohio strip club for eight years and the strip club has been demonstrating (TOPLESS!) in front of the church on Sunday mornings in response…

Now the town officials are getting involved trying to get them both to stop the feud, but nobody’s budging.

Town sends cease and desist letter

Pastor’s response to town’s letter

I’m sorry — I simply cannot help but find humor in this situation. However, one has to admire, if nothing else, the determination of both parties.

What would Jesus do? How would Solomon resolve this one?