A Safe Place 

Revelation 14:1
“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty- four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.”

The tribulation years will be the most difficult time period the earth has ever known. Any hardship we have ever experienced, will pale by comparison, to say the least of the trials during those few years. It is prudent that we each do everything we can to avoid being left here when these events begin to transpire. The way out is to trust in, and surrender to, Christ as Lord and Savior. If you have not yet made the decision to receive Christ, stop reading and pray. Invite Him to forgive your sins and be your Lord.

That being said, Chapter 14 gives a glimpse into the life of 144,000 believers, living and serving God through these dark times. It is particularly striking to me, that these individuals have the seal of God on their lives which, among other things, is certainly a seal of protection. With all the opposition to Christ and His followers, these believers remain untouchable as long as they “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” (Rrevelation 14:4) Their lives serve as a great example that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.

I am reminded of David as he walked into the valley to face Goliath. Unarmed and untrained for battle, there was no safer place for Him to be than face to face with the giant. I think also of Gideon, with only 300 men at his side, and facing an army too large to number, he was both protected and victorious in battle. Conversely, I also think of Jonah. He was a man who knew the danger an Israelite would be in if he walked into the city of Nineveh. Unwilling to yield to the way of the Lord, he found himself in even graver danger.

While we are not to live foolishly, seeking adventure for adventure sake, we must not let the fear of the unknown or the threat of the “what if” keep us out of the center of God’s will for our lives. Just as these men were marked by God, and protected until it was time to call them home, so is the child of God who is walking in the will of God. We need never fear as long as we are following the Lamb wherever He goes.

Pastor Jim

 

Walking In Circles 

Deuteronomy 1:2
“It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea.”

Deuteronomy begins with a recap of Israel’s history, from Mount Sinai, to the border of the Promised Land. Moses begins by reminding the people this journey that has taken a lifetime, should have taken less than two weeks.

After camping at Sinai and receiving the Word of God, the people were commanded to make their way to the Promised Land. They were told that they had “dwelt long enough in the wilderness.” Eleven days later, they found themselves camped at Kadesh Barnea. Instead of walking by faith, they were crippled with fear. As a result of refusing to obey the Lord, they found themselves stuck in the wilderness some 38 years later. Not a lot is known about those years in the wilderness, but one verse gives a sobering commentary,

Deuteronomy 2:3
“You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward.”

For 38 years, Israel walked in circles. They refused to go where God wanted them to go; seeing the obstacles rather than the power of God. For 38 years, they remained in the same station of life, using their weakness, and the strength of the giants as an excuse. It is quite interesting, as Moses recounts the event, he speaks of how the Moabites and the Ammonites both encountered giants, just like the Anakim, but they were not deterred. These unbelievers conquered the issues of life that the children of Israel were afraid to face.

I think it is high time we took seriously at the exhortation of Moses. We have spent enough of our life living in the wilderness, in partial obedience to the Lord. It is time to stop walking in circles, continuing to struggle with the same sins over and over. It is time to face our giants head on, and in the power of the Spirit, overcome the struggles of the flesh.

Pastor Jim

 

Refuge

Numbers 35:12
“They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment.”

God established a system in Israel which ensured the safety of a person who had accidentally caused the death of another. Instead of allowing vigilantes to run rampant, Moses was instructed to have six cities built where a person could flee, find protection, and await his day in court.

Four things stand out to me about the cities of refuge. First, we are told the cities were to be distributed throughout the land for easy access. Second, in Deuteronomy 19:3, we read that good roads were to be built and maintained, so nothing would hinder a person from reaching the city. Third, these cities were for all people, whether they were the Children of Israel, foreigners, or travelers. Fourth, the person must remain in the city until the High Priest died; then their crime was forgiven, and their guilt forever removed.

It is not difficult to see the parallels between the cities of refuge and the work of Christ. The death of Christ provides a way for all men to have their sins pardoned. No matter what our background might be, nothing hinders us from coming to Christ and being forgiven. Those who hide in Christ will never face the avenger of death. A person who fled to the city of refuge was a marked man. All others knew he was only safe because of the provision of God. If he ever left the city, he was no longer safe from the avenger. The same is true of us. Our hope is found in Christ, where we are constantly reminded to abide (John 15:4). As long as we sit under the shelter of the cross, there is no sin that can harm us. We are marked men, and the whole world should know that our hope is in Christ alone.

However, there is a contrast worth noting. The cities of refuge were only for the innocent, while the cross is designed for the guilty. There is no sin, no matter how great, or how frequent, that cannot be forgiven at the cross.

Hebrews 6:18
“… we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”

Pastor Jim