Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Protection and Freedom in our Refuge

Did you know the word refuge is mentioned forty-five times in the book of Psalms?  "Perserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge" (16:1).  "The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge" (18:2).  "The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed" (28:8).  "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him" (34:8)!  "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (46:1).  "For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy" (61:3).  "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man" (118:8).  "Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!  I have fled to you for refuge" (143:9).  These are just a few of the passages that speak of God as being a refuge for those who trust in him.  

What makes the fact that God is our refuge such a big deal?

Many times when we think of a refuge we think of being protected.  This is true.  Thinking back to the time of Joshua, God had appointed cities of refuge for "the manslayer who had struck any person without intent or unknowingly" (Joshua 20:3a).  The person who struck and killed another man without intent or even knowing he had done such a thing was able to flee to these cities of refuge for protection.  "They shall be for you a refuge from the avenger of blood" (Josh. 20:3b).  The person was not allowed to enter a city of refuge before going on trial before the elders of the city.  Once the elders determined that the man had not purposefully committed the crime he would be allowed access to the city for protection.  The manslayer was to stay in the city of refuge "until he had stood before the congregation for judgment or until the death of him who is high priest at the time" (Josh. 20:6).  These cities of refuge were a place of protection and safety.  No person could enter the city to avenge the blood of the loved one who had been killed.  

No doubt this the picture of God as being a refuge is an accurate description of God's protection over his people.  But I think that only halfway captures the picture of a refuge.  Not only was a person protected in a city of refuge but they were also free.  Outside the city of refuge a manslayer was always living with the reality that the avenger of blood (family member) could avenge his blood.  He would never be truly free outside the city of refuge.  While inside the city he did not have to look over his shoulder or stay awake in the night wondering if the avenger of blood would attack.  He was free inside the city of refuge.  

Our God is a God in whom we can take refuge.  Salvation is the truth of trusting or being hidden in Christ.  We trust that his death and resurrection is how the Father's wrath is removed and our sin is forgiven.  We believe we are covered in his perfect righteousness.  In Christ we are both protected from the sting of death and free from sin's domion.  "Kiss the Son, lest he be angrey, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. 'Blessed are all who take refuge in him'" (Ps. 2:12).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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