June 3, 2017

My Fortress

Tuscany’s landscape is dotted with places of refuge, man-made fortresses that were designed to protect their owners from their enemies. On the level looking up, they create a desire — I want to go there, but unless a person has have driven the mountain roads in Italy, most have no idea of the adventure involved in fleeing to one of those fortresses. Some of them are at unbelievable altitudes which is one drawback to going. The other is that none of them can protect anyone from the consequences of sin.

The ‘gospel’ in the Old Testament is about faith in Almighty God — who is my Fortress . . .

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:1–16)

Taking refuge in God as a fortress is also illustrated in the law concerning man-slaughter. Those who killed someone accidentally or without realizing it could flee to a God-appointed city of refuge. This was his only option to escape an “avenger of blood” just as Jesus Christ is the only option of escape for sinners from the wrath of God.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Church attendance or membership could not do it. Putting money in the plate could not do it, nor baptism, nor any other actions I can do. Salvation is obtained only by fleeing to Christ, just as there was no place of mercy, peace, safety or rest for the manslayer until he ran through the gates into one of those cities of refuge.

As today’s devotional reading also says, it was not enough to know where the city was located, how large is was, or how to get there. The sinner must enter the city to be safe. After that, he must confess what he’d done and the city would protect him. He was acquitted and cleansed when the high priest died, just as a Christian is cleansed from all sin by the blood of Christ, who died in our place.

“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14)

Jesus, each day I look for a Word from You. Today, the gospel message is it — a gentle reminder that in You I am not only safe from God’s wrath, but also from my biggest enemy — sin. As I think about You as my refuge, I also realize in You I have been lifted to a high and lofty place. Because of You, I enjoy and am thankful for Your amazing protection and care. Thank You, thank You, thank You.

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