Numbers 35:24 – ‘then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood according to these judgments. (Verse 25) ‘So the congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall return him to the city of refuge where he had fled, and he shall remain there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.
When a believer falls, fails, or messes up, we can find protection in the congregation. The Bible is about relationship, and God is a God of relationship. We have a relationship with God and with people. God gave His only Son to have a relationship with us.
The Relationships Of Refuge
The way God protects us is through relationships. These cities of refuge had no walls around them, no fence, and no guards. They were protected by the people that lived there, the congregation. God implements refuge in the congregation, through HIs people.
However, there are wrong replacements for relationships: Things Things cannot be a refuge for us. Things cannot replace relationships with people. Adam and Eve had a perfect environment and a perfect relationship with God. But yet they traded all that for a piece of fruit. People do this all the time. They trade a relationship for a “thing,” something bigger or better.
Here is a huge lie from the enemy that gets people to trade off their relationship for things: “I’m going to work harder and longer than I should, so my children can have the things I never had when growing up!” All the while neglecting the personal attention their family needs. Whoever said, “More money makes for a better life?” Children need their parents time, not 14 pairs of top dollar shoes or the latest electronic device.
A better life is a father and mother that shows love to their children and spends time with them. If the mother and father are working all the time for a bigger house, a better car, expensive clothes, who is going to raise and guide them in God’s love? No one will. The world will raise them according to the ways of this world.
When people say, “I don’t need anyone but God,” it is a person that doesn’t trust anyone and has very few if any, relationships with others. If Satan can get people to stop trusting others, he can get them to stop trusting God by making them think everyone including God is against them.
Acts 2:42 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Verse 43) Then fear (awe or wonder) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
They focused on doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. Focusing on God’s word and prayer is how we develop our relationship with Him. The breaking of bread is how we develop our relationship with God’s people. Summed up: Relationship with God and relationship s with people is how we develop. These people saw signs and wonders, no doubt miracles, and this is how they did it. They stayed close nit and focused on all these things listed in Acts.
Satan knows we all need relationships with people, but he tries to give us the wrong ones. We need relationships with godly people, not people that do the things we used to do before we were saved. We don’t need any relationship that is going in the wrong direction from where God wants us to go.
1 Corinthians 5:11 – But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother (believer), who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person.
Why would the Apostle Paul tell us to not even eat with such a person that calls themselves a brother that does these things? Because their behavior will influence our behavior and also they will think that you approve of that behavior!
Scripture is very clear on this: If you call yourself a believer, and truly are, we are not to keep company with people like Paul just listed. Does that narrow down the friends and relationships a Christian can have? It sure does! We certainly don’t act all rude and uppity towards them, but we do not condone their sin. If we have close friends or family that is sinning and we know about it, we are to address that situation in a loving manner and if they reject what you are saying, then walk away and let them be.
Far too many Christians overlook this Scripture because they don’t want to deal with it. They are so afraid the other person will say that they are judging them. The principles were already set by God, but we are to tell the ones we are close to stop it or we can no longer be friends.
No one is perfect, but everyone is pointed in a direction. You are either going toward God or you are going in the opposite direction. There are no grey areas! Too many Christians like to straddle the fence. None of us can find perfect friends because we are not perfect either, but we can determine which direction we are going to walk in this life. We cannot continue to walk with someone who calls himself a Christian and lives in rebellion.
Now, what about friends or partnerships in business or even marriage with unbelievers?: 2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
I don’t hear many sermons on the relationships we are to have or not have with the lost. But from this Scripture, we are not to have close relationships with unbelievers, let alone marry one. This does not mean we are not to be “light” and “salt.” We should be influencing them, not the other way around. We don’t step into their environment, we ask them to step into ours.
However, here lies the problem: If a person is only a Christian on Sunday around other Christians, they will never convince a lost person to follow Jesus. Our lifestyle has to match what we believe, every day! We need to be the same in front of all people all the time, including the workplace.
Replacing Religion for Relationship
Religion can become a replacement for relationships. There was no religion in the Garden of Eden. There were no rituals; no form; no regulation; only a relationship with God. Religion is about fulfilling requirements so a person doesn’t have to deal with their heart. Religion says, “If I fulfill these requirements, I don’t have to change on the inside!” And that is exactly what Jesus was always confronting the Pharisees about. He told them, “You fulfill all these laws and requirements, but neglect the matters of the heart!” They looked good on the outside doing all the rituals, but they were dead on the inside.
Religion tells people if they fulfill the requirements, then they are right before God. Not so, because religion doesn’t deal with the sin issue. There is no power in praying to a statue or making a sign across the chest. There is no power in holding “beads” in your hand when you pray. There’s no power in reciting prayers printed on a card. There is power in the name of Lord Jesus Christ and Him only.
The power comes from God’s Holy Spirit and a relationship with Him and His people. People are not Christians unless God has changed their heart. God doesn’t have a problem in dealing with our sin. He has a problem dealing with people who will not be honest in dealing with their own sin because the sin issue was dealt with on the cross.
When we stay close to God, He will stay close to us and that relationship will be a place of refuge and drive out any fear a person might have. We were created for a relationship with God and God’s people.
“Love the Lord thy God with all your soul, mind, and strength, love your neighbor as yourself is the whole law!”