The eternal God is your refuge; And underneath are the everlasting arms; I will say of the LORD, ”He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Deut. 33:27, Psalm 91:2 (NIV).
In today’s society, a person charged with manslaughter is likely to call a lawyer to defend him so he can stay out of jail. In ancient Israel however, such a person would flee to the nearest of six cities designated as “cities of refuge” – Num.35:11. The cities of refuge combined issues of urban planning, justice, and religion in some interesting ways.
God told Moses to instruct the Israelites to create cities of refuge – six in all where those who inadvertently kill someone can run and find refuge and avoid the avenger. My imagination tells me that those who ran there would feel a deep sense of relief and gratitude. Relief, that they will not be killed and gratitude to God who in His eternal wisdom had made such a provision. I believe that these cities of refuge had all manner of people – those who belonged to high class, middle class and lower class of society.
But while there, no one could really stand on ceremony and insist on social status. All had one thing in common and that one thing was that by God’s grace they have been saved from sure and certain death. This is the extent of God’s love – He makes provision for us to escape the certain death that comes from sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Rom. 6:23.
Let us spend a little time thinking about this our God who is our REFUGE – our hiding place, our fortress, our stronghold – providing a place in Him where we can come for peace, stability and calm:
- when the enemy comes against us;
- when life’s pressures mount, and
- when our inner peace gets very shaky.
Legend has it that Moses penned Psalm 91 at the beginning of the wandering of Israel in the wilderness. In this Psalm, we find assurance that if our relationship with God is intimate and very close then:
- we will be totally be protected by Him; and
- we will know Him as our refuge and our fortress and put our total trust in Him.
Let us ponder over these three questions.
Question 1: What have you actively done or are you actively doing to be in an intimate love relationship with God? Is God number 2 or 3 or 4 in your life? Are other things so important that you have relegated God to a place where you call on Him only when you need Him? If that is the case then please change your mind because it is unacceptable.
God must be 1st in our hearts and in our lives. He deserves the first place – He must be our all in all. We must deliberately and willingly enthrone Him as our LORD. Jesus says in Luke 14:26 that unless we “hate” mother, father, husband, wife, even our own lives we cannot be His disciples. Jesus is love so obviously Jesus is not talking about hating our closest relations but merely emphasizing that we must love Him deeply and totally, and be willing to leave all things for His sake.
During the wilderness exile of David, when he was fleeing from King Saul, he used the imagery of REFUGE more than any other scripture writer. Many psalms of David mention God as our refuge because David knew that his true shelter was God and not the numerous caves he found himself in. It was Jehovah God who kept him, protected him and sustained him physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was Jehovah God who comforted him and counselled and gave him grace to be humble.
Question 2: How has God been your REFUGE and hiding place? For us, we have accepted by faith God’s grace of salvation, Jesus Christ, our Refuge. He is the Person to whom we may go to with every complaint and dilemma. He hears us in times of trouble. No matter what we have done we may go to Him, seek His forgiveness and find safety in Him. No one can permanently harm us when we are in Christ and when God is our Shield. Jesus is the defender of our lives and we need not shiver with fear before people and circumstances. As Paul wrote in Rom.8:31 “if God is for us, who can be against us”?
How do we make Christ our refuge? How do we come to that place of knowing that He is responsible for keeping us safe? Proverbs 18:10 is our answer – “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe”. This is so because of the many names of God:
- He is El Shaddai – the Almighty, all sufficient, all bountiful God. He is the One who fulfils every promise of scripture – 2 Cor.1:20. He is faithful.
- He is El Elyon – the Most High God who rules over peoples and nations and whose strength and power no one can resist. Christ is our impenetrable shield and our protector.
- He is El Olam, the everlasting God, our God who is eternally consistent. Christ is the stability of our life – when things seem to fall apart.
- He is El Roi, the God who sees. He watches over us, seeing and knowing all that happens in our lives. He comes at the right time to help us.
- He is Jehovah Jireh – the God who provides all our needs according to His unlimited bounteous resources.
We can go on and on about the names of God – all of which are reflections of His attributes and character. That is the God to whom we may run for shelter! He is our hiding place and our refuge.
Question 3: From what troubles have God delivered you? Psalm 91:3-7; 10-13 and 16. We need to intimately know this our God and receive from Him all that He has for us so that we will experience peace, perfect peace in this dark world of sin.
Will you commit to Him today as your REFUGE?
A Safe Stronghold our God is Still – MHB 494
1. A SAFE stronghold our God is still,
A trusty shield and weapon;
He’ll help us clear from all the ill
That hath us now o’ertaken.
The ancient Prince of Hell
Hath risen with purpose fell;
Strong mail of craft and power
He weareth in this hour—
On earth is not his fellow.
2. With force of arms we nothing can,
Full soon were we down-ridden;
But for us fights the proper Man,
Whom God himself hath bidden.
Ask ye: Who is this same?
Christ Jesus is his name,
The Lord Zebaoth’s Son
He, and no other one,
Shall conquer in the battle.
3. And were this world all devils o’er,
And watching to devour us,
We lay it not to heart so sore
Not they can overpower us.
And let the Prince of Ill
Look grim as e’er he will,
He harms us not a whit:
For why? his doom is writ
A word shall quickly slay him.
God’s word, for all their craft and force,
One moment will not linger;
But spite of hell shall have its course—
’Tis written by his finger.
And though they take our life,
Goods, honor, children, wife,
Yet is their profit small:
These things shall vanish all—
The City of God remaineth.
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