Shelter in God’s Place

03/25/2020

Dwell under the shadow of the Almighty

Psalm 91:1–6 (NKJV)

1      He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High

Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2      I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;

My God, in Him I will trust.”

3      Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler

And from the perilous pestilence.

4      He shall cover you with His feathers,

And under His wings you shall take refuge;

His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

5      You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,

Nor of the arrow that flies by day,

6      Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,

Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

          A new phrase has emerged during this  pandemic (at least one I had never heard before). It  is: “shelter in place”.  I suppose that “lock down” doesn’t have the same level of comfort.   A more direct way of putting it is: “stay in your house”.

          God developed the concept of safety in shelter long before we coined such a phrase.  If we go back – all the way back – to the beginning, in the book of Genesis we read:  “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward of Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2:8)

          The garden was a place.  It had specific shape, size, and was sustained by God in perfection. It was a house, a divinely created shelter.   

          Moreover, God, Adam, and Eve had perfect communion with one another.  They were under the sovereign protection from God.  They had no fear.  No fear of lack.  No worry about storms.  No anxiety over their health and wellbeing.  They were in a perfect situation.  They could shelter in place because they were under the sheltered care of the Lord.

          Of course, that did not last.  Human disobedience brought everything crashing down around our first parents.  As I watched a recently produced  video with micro-biologist, I learned that viruses are all around us. There are “good” viruses. They help manage the bacteria all around us.  However, there are viruses  that, through entropy, become a threat.  We might say they “turn bad”.

          We must remind ourselves that entropy (Meaning: things tend toward decay) is a reminder of human sin.  Sin places us outside the shelter God has for us.  Only God is able to create a “safe place” for us in the midst of the storm of sin.  Only he can provide the protection of our soul as well as create a certainty for our future.

          During the captivity of God’s people in Egypt,  just before they were released by Pharaoh, God sent a series of judgments upon Egypt.  One of the severest was the taking, through death, the first-born male of every family.   Yet God made provision for safety. The people of Israel were to “shelter in place” in their homes.  They were to take the blood of a sacrificed lamb and place blood on the door posts (sides) and lintel (frame above the door). When they did that the death angel would pass over their homes.  They would be covered by the blood. They would know what it means to be sheltered in the secret place – abiding in the shadow of the Almighty.

          There is a reason that Christians make such a big deal about the shed blood of Jesus.  The blood at the door entry for the Israelites was a type and shadow of what Jesus would one day accomplish. A work He would do to make it possible for people to find the infinite shelter of God. Hebrews notes:

Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12)

          We make that blood efficacious to our own lives when we bow our hearts and humbly confess that we need to be “under the blood”. We must acknowledge that our sins require that there be a payment – a death.  The glorious good news is that those who put their faith – their trust – in what Jesus accomplished are then placed in the secret place, under the shadow of the almighty. They receive everlasting Life!

One hymn writer expressed this soul shelter this way.               

          In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet

          God leads His dear children along

          Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet

          God leads His dear children along

          Refrain:

          Some through the waters, some through the flood

          Some through the fire, but all through the blood

          Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song

          In the night season and all the day long

          Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright

          God leads His dear children along

          Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night

          God leads His dear children along

          Refrain

          Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose

          God leads His dear children along

          Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes

          God leads His dear children along

          Refrain

          Away from the mire, and away from the clay

          God leads His dear children along

          Away up in glory, eternity’s day

          God leads His dear children along       

          Refrain

          Christina Rossetti was and English poet of the 19th century.  Perhaps she is best known by two poems that became Christmas carols: “In the Bleak Midwinter”, and “Love came down and Christmas”. She was also a devotional writer. In those writings she penned prayers.

Here is one of those prayers.

“O Lord, who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, who beholds your weak creatures, weary of labor, weary of pleasure, weary of hope deferred, weary of self, in your abundant compassion and unutterable tenderness, bring us, we ask you, unto your rest.”  Amen.

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