Overcoming evil through faith.
Many Christians are familiar with the story of the twelve spies who explored the land of Canaan, the promised land that God had promised to give to the Israelites. Numbers 12 explains that ten of the spies gave a bad report. Caleb and Joshua, the last two spies, believed they could overcome their enemies and take the land. God was pleased with Caleb and Joshua. Forty years later, when the people of Israel finally entered the Promised Land, these two were the only spies that were allowed to inherit the land. The other ten evil spies died in the wilderness because of unbelief.
Numbers 13, however, introduces some themes that we don’t often hear about in church. For example, Numbers 13:33 gives a cryptic reference to some lesser known people, the Nephilim. This verse clearly states that the descendants of Anak came from the Nephilim. Genesis 6:4 introduces us to the Nephilim: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God come in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.” ESV
Christians disagree about the identity of the “sons of God” in this passage. Some believe they were evil spirits, that is, fallen angels. When they married the daughters of man, they gave birth to “Nephilim.” “Nephilim” means “giants” in the original text.
According to this interpretation, these people were a combination of evil spirits and man’s flesh. They precipitated the worldwide flood of Genesis 6 that wiped out all human beings except Noah’s family. We know that Noah is a descendant of Adam, not the “Nephilim.” So shouldn’t all the “Nephilim” have been wiped out by the flood? How were there still “Nephilim” surviving in the Promised Land?
Some people say that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:4 is a reference to the son of “Seth”. We have no way of knowing this. Even if this interpretation were correct, these so-called “Nephilim” should have all been wiped out in the flood. All human beings should be the descendants of Noah. Therefore, it seems logically impossible for the “Nephilim” in the Promised Land to be the descendants of the “Nephilim” in Genesis 6.
Did the evil spirits unite with humans to produce giants a second time? We have no way of knowing this, either. If so, it provides an extreme example of what evil spirits can do to humans. We do know that evil spirits can indeed control and possess people. The story of the Lord Jesus casting out demons, as well as countless stories about casting out demons in modern churches, tell us that evil spirits can indeed possess people. No matter how the “Nephilim” came into being here, they were obviously possessed by or united with evil spirits.
When Abraham was first called by God to go to the Promised Land, he lived east of the Euphrates River. God did not allow Abraham to take root there. Instead, He led Abraham’s descendant, Jacob, on a roundabout, circuitous path. Jacob and his descendants first went south to Egypt, where they spent 400 years. Then they headed north. In the words of the Lord to Abraham, “They shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (ESV, Genesis 15:16) The “Amorites” referenced here are related to the Canaanites. If these “Amorites” represent the seven Canaanite nations, we understand this passage to refer to the sins of the Canaanite nations in general. Later, the Lord explicitly instructed the Israelites to exterminate all seven of the Canaanite nations (Deuteronomy 7:1-2).
On the surface, the conquest of Canaan was a battle between people, but in reality, it was a battle between God and Satan. Many people don’t understand why God wanted to exterminate the seven Canaan nations. They think this is very cruel. But if you look at this situation from the perspective of the spiritual world, you will see that there was more at stake. This was a battle between God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom. The Canaanites were victims who were used by the evil spirits, and God had given them plenty of time to repent. On the one hand, the 400-year history of the Israelites in Egypt provided time for the Israelites to gather strength. On the other hand, it also provided time for the Canaanites to repent. But now the 400 years had passed, and the Canaanites still refused to repent. Their iniquity was full, so God instructed the Israelites to exterminate the seven Canaanite nations.
The Israelites failed to take the land of Canaan because it was possessed or controlled by evil spirits. Rather than seeing God’s will and leading, they only saw the strength of the seven Canaanite nations. They disregarded God’s power and saw themselves as grasshoppers (Numbers 13:32-33). Their lack of faith was a great insult to God.
They not only lacked faith, but they also refused to comprehend God’s spiritual work in Israel through Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and others. In the words of Paul in the New Testament, “The spiritual man judges all things, but the natural person is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (ESV, 1 Corinthians 2:14-15). The ten spies represented carnal and fleshy people who could not discern spiritual truth.
Because they did not have faith in God, they could not enter the Promised Land. The Promised Land represents the presence of God, the Holy of Holies, and the Spirit of God. Instead, they could only wander in the wilderness of trial and tribulation for forty years. The Israelites would have to bear their iniquity for 40 years, a year for each day they scouted out the land (ESV, Numbers 14:34). The book of Hebrews specifically mentions that the dead bodies of the Israelites fell in the wilderness because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19, 1 Corinthians 10:5).
Just like the spies faced a test of faith, we as Christians also face a challenge to our faith. The Lord Jesus said that He would come soon, but He still hasn’t come after such a long time. We struggle to believe his words are true. Just like God’s promise to give his people the Promised Land was reliable and truthful, Jesus’ promise to come back to earth can be trusted. But we need faith and spiritual maturity to grasp and believe it.
The journey from Egypt to the Promised Land only takes 11 days of travel at a normal pace, but it took 40 years for the Israelites to arrive. Why? Because of their unbelief. The wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness represents the Christian’s spiritual journey. After we are saved, we are set free from the sins of Egypt and the uncleanness of the world. God enables us to enter a life of faith through the Spirit, just like the Israelites entered the Promised Land. He gives us the opportunity to worship God in spirit and truth (ESV, John 4:24). But many of us are still wandering in our souls. Just like the Israelites in the wilderness, we are lost and alone, unable to enter the life of the Spirit and reach spiritual maturity.
Why doesn’t God make things easier for our faith? Why didn’t he make Israel’s enemies less scary, less formidable? Why did they have to be so enormously terrifying? God wanted to use the enemies of the Israelites as a footstool to boost their faith in him.
The Bible tells us that the enemy is our footstool (Psalm 110:1). Metaphorically, we are princes learning to ride a horse. We need a footstool to climb onto the horse, and Satan is this footstool. He is a step stool that creates an opportunity for us to boost our faith. In Him, we have authority to trample on all enemies and evil spirits, as well as scorpions and snakes on earth (Luke 10:19). As we trample on our spiritual enemies, we have a way to climb upwards in our faith.
Today, both China and the United States face many evil spirits. We should rely on God’s strength to overcome them. Just like David approached Goliath with faith, we must exercise trust in God as we move forward against the spiritual enemies of our day.
Too often, instead of imitating David’s faith, we imitate the Israelites’ attitude towards the giants in the Promised Land. In the face of a difficult environment and rampant evil spirits, we forget God’s promises and the good works, signs and wonders He has done in history. We lose our faith, just like the Israelites did in Numbers 13. Let’s learn from history and avoid making the same mistakes.
In Israelites society, each clan had a leader, or representative. The leader’s spiritual state reflected the faith or lack of faith of the tribe of Israel they belong to. The spies were not the only Israelites who failed to trust God. When the spies reported the bad news about the giants in the Promised Land, the congregation also wept loudly (ESV, Numbers 14:1). The people were just as cynical and pessimistic as the spies were.
Moses had instructed the spies, “See what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, and whether the land that they dwell in is good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell in are camps or strongholds, and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land. It was the season of the first ripe grapes.” (ESV, Numbers 13:18-20).
The spies not only brought back an objective report about the land (good or bad, rich or poor, trees or open land). They also brought back their own interpretation of the facts.
I am reminded of a story told by an American Charismatic pastor, Mel Bond. Bond tells of a church member who owned a red Ferrari. One day, this individual came into church and heard that a red Ferrari in the parking lot had been crashed into. He experienced painful feelings, but he later discovered that the crashed vehicle was not his. The sadness, anger, and regret he had experienced existed only in his imagination, due to his own interpretation of the situation.
Pastor Mel Bond used this example to illustrate the importance of imagination. We can create a false world with imagination. This example also applies here. When Caleb and Joshua interpreted the facts through the lens of faith, they used their sanctified imagination to envision a world in which they could easily overcome their enemies.
On the other hand, the ten spies exaggerated the enemy’s strength when they saw the facts through a lens of unbelief. With their natural imagination, they saw a hopeless picture of disaster. Perhaps the “Nephilim” they saw in the land were not really the half-demonic “Nephilim” of Genesis 6. In their unbelief and ungodly imagination, they had exaggerated the enemy’s strength.
People from mainland China are familiar with the debate over “materialism” and “idealism.” When I was young, I knew a pair of brothers named “Material” and “Ideal”. The teaching of “materialism” is that the material world is all there is. When a person dies, the material body and soul will be gone. But “idealism” believes that there is more to the world than what you see. There is a world of perception beyond the material.
Even though these two groups live in the same world, they perceive it very differently. The world seems very different for those who see a realm beyond the material. The same is true for Christianity. The Bible tells us that the world we can see does not last forever, but the things we cannot see are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). How we interact with the world depends on how we see it: with natural eyes or with spiritual eyes of sanctified imagination.
Our thoughts and imagination create our perception of the world we live in. If we live by faith and by spiritual vision, we will gradually create a living space like the Promised Land around us. Not only is there milk and money here, but it is also filled with God’s presence and joy.
But if we live by unbelief and by eyes of flesh, we will gradually create a dark environment, so that we can no longer see God’s presence and working in our lives. The sun of God’s love still exists, but the dark clouds of unbelief have covered the sun. Let’s use our faith-filled imagination to live in God’s truth and imagine the amazing things that he can do in our lives through his power.
If you choose to see things from the perspective of faith, if you choose to see the enemy from the perspective of God’s promise, you will be able to defeat the enemy and enter the Promised Land. But if you choose to use the perspective of unbelief to see the enemy and the difficulties in the environment, those difficulties can defeat and devour you.
In other words, whether you or the enemy are a grasshopper depends entirely on how you perceive yourself and how you perceive them. If you see yourself as a grasshopper, you will gradually create an environment of unbelief for yourself, and eventually you will be swallowed by the enemy. But if you see yourself as a good soldier of God, your confidence will continue to grow, and you will eventually defeat the enemy.
Living in the Light
In The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis tells a story about a bus that goes from hell to heaven daily. Most people who take the bus from hell to visit heaven choose to return to hell because they find that heaven is not suitable for their living habits. In heaven, they cannot curse or complain. They can’t handle the intensity of the bright light in heaven.
In other words, C. S. Lewis emphasizes that it’s not so much that God created hell to torture unbelievers, but that people did not choose God’s presence. They are unwilling to live in the light. They choose to live in the darkness, which is hell. Hell is a range of darkness beyond God and His light.
There are different degrees of darkness outside of God’s light. Hell is the epitome of darkness and separation from God. There, sulfur and fire burn constantly without reprieve. Some people will go to hell after judgement while some people will go to heaven because they have repented.
But there are many other levels of darkness between heaven and hell. These degrees of darkness can be compared to valleys, darkened by mountains of varying heights. Though this concept is not mentioned in the Bible, several people have had prophetic dreams about this theme.
In a prophetic dream, the Holy Spirit carried me on his back and flew for a long time. After arriving at a very deep and very dark valley, we saw a Chinese man there. He told me that he had lived in this valley since the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD). I saw him smoking a modern cigarette. In this prophetic dream, I told him that I could not believe what he said, because there were no such modern cigarettes during the Han Dynasty. He said that this was brought to him by a person who went there later.
Later, I realized that smoke in the prophetic dream represents some people who do not go to hell, but must be disciplined in the dark. This concept is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, so these prophetic dreams are for your reference only.
From the dream, I understand that some people live in deep darkness while some live in less darkness. Some people live in lower light while some people live in higher light. It is a process of gradual transition. The more you are filled with God’s light, the more you will live in His light. If you are filled with darkness, the more you will live in the darkness, far from God.
As Christians, we are good soldiers called by God to lead countless people to salvation, just as Moses and Joshua led the Israelites out of Egypt. God’s revival is coming to China. Hundreds of millions of people in China may be saved. The Holy Spirit has given me this promise many times through prophetic dreams and direct communication. I saw in a vision that after the great revival of China, worship of God in various parts of China will be in full swing. There will be great changes to all aspects of Chinese society.
In the present, however, we only see lots of hardships and the unbelief of many relatives. When I told these prophetic dreams and visions to my relatives, I was ridiculed and mocked. But we must see the world through the lens of faith in order to produce results.
This revival will spread beyond China. God’s great revival is also coming to America. In a prophetic dream, I saw countless Americans watching a movie in a pool. The water got deeper and deeper. Later, when we returned, we saw the great revival coming. Many people were worshipping God on the stage. There was a huge crowd of people on the scene.
Water represents the Holy Spirit, and the increase of water represents the continuous increase of the Holy Spirit. God uses various circumstances, including the coronavirus pandemic, to perform the work of discipline and cleansing, to prepare people and let them repent. When the people are ready, the great revival will come. We must prepare ourselves.
In another prophetic dream, I saw an angel stretching out a big stick from the sky to the ocean. He began to stir. The churning waves of the ocean caused many houses to collapse. People began to run in fear. I and several others escaped by swimming away. I felt in my spirit that God has allowed us to face a turbulent environment. But if we want to live in the Spirit (represented by swimming), we can rely on God’s power to survive this difficult environment and we can prepare to welcome the coming of God’s great revival. In a difficult environment, we must see through the external appearance to perceive the essence. We must see God’s good purpose, and view reality through the lens of faith. When we view the world through the perspective of God’s promises, we can enter the Promised Land promised by God. If we cannot view the world through faith and God’s promise, the promised revival may not come true. May the Spirit of God wake us up!