Monday, September 11, 2006

Our High Tower

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah.
(Psalm 46:1-3)
When God is our refuge, there is no need for fear. Not even if the whole earth were destroyed and every mountain submerged in the deepest oceans. Nor in the midst of great tsunamis and monumental earthquakes.

God is our shelter, our strength, our security. He is the cause of our boldness, our confidence. He is a very present help. The margin note in the NKJV says, “abundantly available help.” The Hebrew words show that God is more than ready to move on our behalf, vehemently, speedily and wholly. He greatly desires to help us with all that belongs to Him. Especially in the time of trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear.

The psalm writer has “done the math,” and concluded that, regardless of whatever happens in the world, or even to the world, there is no reason for fear. He has stepped into the revelation of the love of God, for God is love, and perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). If we have fear, it only means that we need to know more of His love.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
(Psalm 46:4-6)
Literally, the “city of God” refers to Jerusalem, the place where God specifically manifested the of His presence. It was holy because it was set apart as the place where the glory of the Most High dwelt on earth. But now, everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in them. We are the living temple of the Living God.

There has never been a literal river that flows through Jerusalem. The river the psalmwriter has in mind is a river of God’s mercy and favor. It is a river of revival, like the one in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 47), bringing life and healing to the people of God. It is a river that everyone who thirsts may come and drink (Isaiah 55). It is the river of living water Jesus spoke about, which would come forth from our innermost being — a river of the Holy Spirit.

There is a holy city, and the river of God runs through it. God is in the midst of her, therefore, she shall not be moved. There is no shaking or falling or crumbling in this city; God is instantly there to “help” — the Hebrew word means to surround and protect. For this is the city of God, a city of heaven, the kingdom of God now breaking into the world.

Nations and kingdoms may rage against it, but it is they who will be moved, not the kingdom of God. For God utters a sound, and their foundations disintegrate. He speaks a word, and their evil works are destroyed. In “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” based on this psalm, Martin Luther identifies this word as the Lord Jesus Christ, the Living Word.
The LORD of Hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
(Psalm 46:7)
This is a very bold and powerful declaration of our position in God: Yahweh Sabaoth, the LORD of Hosts is with us! Yahweh, signified in our English Bibles by “LORD” (all caps) is the name by which God reveals Himself in covenant. His “hosts” are all the angels and armies of heaven. God has made covenant with us, and all of heaven is on our side!

“The God of Jacob” is another reference to covenant, the one God made with Abraham, confirmed to Isaac, and then to Jacob. He is our “refuge,” our high fortress, which is totally beyond the reach of the enemy. He is our strong and high tower. In fact, that is how the Jewish Publication Society Bible renders it: “The God of Jacob is our high tower.”
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
(Psalm 46:8-10)
Get big picture of what God is doing. As His kingdom breaks into the world more and more, and His will is being done more and more on earth as it is in heaven, the enemies of God will be undermined and their wicked works destroyed. Hostilities will cease, and the implements of war will be useless.

We have not yet send that day. But we will when we cease from our own striving and understand that this is all about God and His glory. Then He will be exalted among all the nations of the earth.
The LORD of Hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
(Psalm 46:11)
So the psalm writer ends with the repetition of his theme: God and all of heaven is with us; He is our high tower.

Five years ago, Islamic terrorists tried to cast the world into fear. But it will not stand, for God is love, and love casts out fear. Today, as we remember the fallen towers of 9/11, let not your heart be troubled. Quiet your heart and know that the Lord is God. Give Him glory, and put your trust in Him. For He is your strong and high tower which can never be toppled.