“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwell.”
–Psalm 46:1-4 (NLT)
If you were like most of us as children, you looked forward to Easter. But if you were like me, you looked forward to it for all the wrong reasons. I loved getting chocolate bunnies (and promptly biting their heads off), or getting plastic eggs full of jelly beans. But I really wanted to tell you my famous Easter egg hunt story.
I was once invited to go on a huge Easter egg hunt with lots of other kids. We had fun until it was all over, and I had collected all my eggs.
I quickly became bored, so I started cracking my eggs on the head of the boy next to me. Suddenly, one of them burst, and that poor boy’s head was suddenly covered in runny egg! There were 124 eggs in the hunt, and I had to get the one egg that was raw. I really wanted to get out of there.
It wasn’t until later that I learned what Easter really means, but I also learned that as Christians, we have to struggle not to lose sight of what His resurrection means in our lives. Just as fog on an overcast day can distort our view, we can sometimes lose sight of what is important in life because of nonessentials.
A prime example of this can be seen in our holidays, and Easter is no exception. But since the Coronavirus has taken many of these holiday trappings away, let’s use this time for self-examination. If this is taken seriously, it will inevitably lead us to a closer walk with God. In other words, let’s get back to the basics. The resurrection of Christ needs to take a central position in our lives, as we let our lights shine during these days of darkness.
We can see the risen Christ as our refuge as we look to the book of Numbers, Chapter 35. Many of you may not know this part of the Bible, which paints a picture of how we are to abide in Him.
The Cities of Refuge were 6 cities which God told the children of Israel to build. Their purpose was to protect the man who had killed someone accidentally.
The principle of these cities shows how God’s mercy and grace are displayed today. Jesus is more than just our refuge. He is also our great high priest.
We will come back to that concept later, but for now let me just say that we often don’t see God’s blessings, because we are too fixated on our problems. We will also touch on other relevant topics concerning the Cities of Refuge, but in order for what I have said so far to make sense, I need to digress. So please take some time and meditate on our opening scripture.
When we compare the first verse with what I previously said, you can see the beginning of the Cities of Refuge analogy. This scripture passage shows us that God is our refuge. God’s Word provides a beautiful picture of Him being our shelter.
But there is more to unpack. The Cities of Refuge needed to be placed in strategic locations. This made them very accessible, and anyone who was innocent could run to them for protection.
Maybe this is where the expression “run for your life” came from, for that is exactly what the innocent party had to do. If their enemy overtook them and they were outside the protected cities, they were dead meat.
Unfortunately, this protection only lasted as long as the high priest lived, and this is where I will make the contrast about Jesus being our high priest. We need to look at the book of Hebrews to see this, for it tells us about this truth in great detail. So let’s look at both the worldly high priest, and our own eternal high priest.
Under the law, the office of the high priest was very important, so let’s examine that title briefly. The high priest represented the people before God, but he was also God’s representative to the people. The parallel here, of course, is God’s accessibility in Christ, for He was, and is, the fulfillment of the old covenant.
The Bible says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, f Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.”
We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses. Instead, we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—and yet, He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Secondly, the high priest could only go into the Holy of Holies only once a year, because of his sinful nature. Again, in contrast, Christ continually goes to the Father for us in prayer. Because of what He has done, He also invites us to approach His throne with boldness.
Thirdly, the high priest had to wear linen robes once a year. Christ, however, is perpetually portrayed in linen robes, which speak of His righteousness.
The Bible tells us that “God’s mercies are new every morning”, and because of those mercies we can be permanently adopted into His family.
Then the Psalmist tells us that if we learn that God is our help by laying a good foundation of getting to know Him, we won’t have to fear. He lists all kinds of catastrophees from destructive earthquakes to churning flood waters. But even though he may not understand everything that is going on, the psalmist knows that he doesn’t have to. Looking forward, he knows that Christ is his city of refuge, and that He is in control.
That brings up some great questions for all of us this season. Do you and I run to God only when things become difficult? Or do we run into His arms because we are delighting ourselves in Him? We need to allow our present trials to bring us ever closer to Christ, but we also need to develop a lifestyle of running to Him constantly in prayer.
We may not understand what is going on as far as the Coronavirus is concerned, but we don’t have to. God’s ways are higher than ours, so if you have not taken Him as your refuge, there is no better time than Easter to do that. Or if you have, I hope that you will come back to Him with your whole heart. Either way, the Bible invites you to trust Him, for the knowledge that He is your refuge can bring you rest from anxiety in these times.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6498. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.