“In her fortified palaces, God is made known to be a place of refuge.”
(Psalm 48:4 [verse 3 in English])
This the city of God…the palace that has been fortified and protected and situated on Zion, she is a place of refuge. While this was meant to be true in the most literal sense of the word — Jerusalem was walled in and protected — it is also clear from the context of this psalm that the sons of Korah have something even greater in mind. God himself is the ultimate place of refuge from those who will seek to destroy us, for indeed, “the sons of Korah did not die” (Numbers 26:11).
We have often reflected on the tendency of the believer to seek to find refuge in human works rather than in trusting God for refuge, but I wonder whether or not part of the problem is that the pattern of life and faith exhibited by the church as an institution in today’s era lends it to communicating that great truth. Allow me to explain. Jerusalem was a shadow of the greater Jerusalem that is to come just as the throne of God over the mercy seat was a shadow of the throne room in heaven. Similarly, Jerusalem was walled in — was referred to as the most fortified city in the Roman empire, though, again, these human walls were only meant to symbolize the greater truth that it was to God that we can run to find refuge.
Our churches, then, as shadows again of the worship in heaven and of the refuge of God’s presence (there is a reason we refer to the heart of the church as a “sanctuary”), what do they communicate? Do they communicate that God is a place of refuge or otherwise? And here I am not so much talking about the walls or the tower, etc…I am talking about the people. Is church a place to which people can fly when the winds of this life buffet them to and fro? Or, is your church a place where people need to hide their hurts lest someone seek to bring further injury. Sadly, I think that churches are often more the latter than the former…yet when that takes place, what are we communicating about the character of God? About his city? About his worship?
Loved ones, this is a principle that we must take very seriously, for what we do in this life and how we worship reflects what we truly believe about the character of God. If we believe that God truly forgives, then we must forgive. If we believe that God is a place of refuge, then our gatherings and gathering places also need to be places where people can find refuge from the ravages of this world. If we believe that God is love, then we must express that love to one another. And if we say that God is one way yet do not live it out, then we become hypocrites and our testimony will be rejected in our community and in this world.