For several months now, I have been pasting a daily devotional onto the church Facebook page. I have no idea if anyone reads it, but as it is a part of my morning routine and I am blessed in reading it and forwarding it. My source right now is Spurgeon’s little book, “Faith’s Checkbook.” Unlike “Morning and Evening,” this book contains nothing but promises – or as he says divine checks. They are payable to various people – from Israelites to Apostles. But the generous recipients are usually willing to share their God-given wealth with you and me.
One of those devotions came from this scripture, provoking additional thoughts in me. Last Sunday I shared part of my conclusions, and today I’d like to conclude those conclusions. I pointed out that “Jeshurun” is the name of those people whom God has declared righteous. They are the most blessed of all people, because they are no longer God’s enemies. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jewsus Christ.” “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” These people are “Jeshurun” – declared righteous. And “there is none like the God of Jeshurun.” He is the omnipotent Creator and by Him all things consist. He is absolutely holy and separate from sinners. And yet He has chosen to justify a few wretches, declaring them to be “Jeshurun” – His righteous and blessed people. But obviously, not everyone is “Jeshurun” because not everyone is righteous. Multitudes of Americans, since they do not “like to retain God in their knowledge, (the Lord has given) them over to a reprobate mind” to live their lives in their sinful habits. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” The Biblical word “reprobate” means – “castaway” or “rejected.”
I introduced last week’s message by pointing to Moses. There have been few men more explicitly chronicled in the Bible than Moses. We know more about him than almost any other Bible character. And most Bible readers can talk about the man with some degree of intelligence. But we are prone to visualize him in only one picture frame, placing his memory in some dark corner of our minds. That habit of characterizing people is common – We often do this sort of thing. When we talk about Stalin, Mao or Hitler, we put them into a ugly little box. Those men might have been wonderful fathers, or great chess players, or very funny in private. But to us they are nothing except diabolical, murderous dictators. We put them into the box of our choice and leave them there.
And when Christians think about Moses, many of them do the same thing. Maybe to some he was the law-giver, an inflexible lawman, the Hebrew hanging-judge. But the fact is that Moses was a soft-hearted, meek, shy introvert after years of anonymity. Only as the Holy Spirit filled him did he become the fire-breathing prophet of God. And the softer, pastoral side of Moses is clearly seen in these verses. Despite the battles he had with Israel, he still loved them as a shepherd loves his rebellious sheep. He wanted the very best for them, even though they sometimes wanted his head on a platter. He was delighted to be able to encourage them in more positive and uplifting things. In addition to the prophecy, that is what we have in these verses.
The eternal God is thy refuge.
As I said last week, if your name is “Jeshurun” these words can be yours, as well as it was Israel’s. “Israel” was the God-given name for “Jacob.” He who had been the supplanter, the cheat, the sinner became a prince with God, by the grace of God. He had been declared righteous in God’s sight. And the name “Jeshurun” described the new nature of that man. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” And “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed, behold all things are become new.” Not everyone can be called a “prince with God,” but thousands of Jacobites have been made “Jeshurun” through the righteousness and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. And those people who are now “Jeshurun” have a refuge in the Lord.
The word “refuge” in the Old Testament has been translated from several different Hebrew words. And this one is one of the more rare. It is stretching things a bit to say that this relates to the cities of refuge; it is an entirely different word. Nevertheless, refuge is refuge no matter what the original word might be. The cities of refuge were six God-selected cities across Israel. There were three on the east side of Jordan and three on the west. And that is something which I always thought was just a bit strange, since 75% of the population was on the west of Jordan. These cites provided asylum to people guilty of manslaughter. If someone accidently caused the death of another person, he could run to one of the six cities of refuge and be protected from the legal vengeance of the grieving family. There would be a trial in the city of refuge, and if it could be proved that there was no malice or intent to murder, the man-slaughterer could remain inside the walls of that community and be safe.
I have preached the beautiful illustration of our Saviour which is contained in the cities of refuge. Those people who are now “Jeshurun” by God’s grace have a refuge in the Lord. But honesty demands we point out that the word “refuge” here is a completely different Hebrew word. And I would also love to tie this verse into several wonderful statements in Psalms. Psalm 27:5 – “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” Psalm 31:20 – “Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.” Psalm 71:1-3 – “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion. Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me. Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 90:1-2 – “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” I would like to be able to say that these and two dozen more all contain same Hebrew word, but that wouldn’t be true. And yet they all say essentially the same thing as this word “refuge” – with one difference.
The word “me-on-ah” is translated “den” five times more often than any other way. A “den” as in an animal’s burrow or lair – a cozy “saint cave.” Psalm 104:21-22 – “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.” The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.” Both John Gill and Spurgeon agree that “refuge” it could be applied to the Christian’s “mansion” or “dwelling-place.”
And how about “castle?” Have you ever heard it said that a man’s home is his castle? When a lioness goes out to create a den for herself and her subs, it becomes exactly what she wants it to be. It becomes her castle. We may look at it and say that it is dirty, ugly, stinky, out of way and with no fenced yard. But if you ask that lioness with her cubs inside, she’d say it is a mansion.
“The eternal God is thy refuge” – thy dwelling-place, thy mansion and thy home. It doesn’t really matter what your earthly home might be, this one is a mansion. Israel might have been living in tents, but the eternal God was their hideaway den. We are talking about dwelling in the arms, heart and thoughts of the omnipotent and sovereign God.
If there is any place where we can most be ourselves it is at home. Here we can lay down the defensive front we sometimes wear out in the world. Of course, as He always does, here the Lord knows us thoroughly so we can forget about the petty fraud. Here is the place where we can withdraw from the stress and strain of life. “The Lord is our rock, in Him we hide; a shelter in the time of storm.” How many times recently has another cold front swept across our region sometimes with its driving wind and cold rain? Wasn’t it pleasant to only hear the wind or perhaps feel it for a few moments before closing the door? Wasn’t it good to hear rain pound against the window but not to feel it? And at 7:00 a.m., at the coldest part of the day, isn’t it nice to have a refuge from the chilly air? “The eternal God is thy refuge” “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather” praise and worship Him who has saved both your soul and body from Hell. Fear not the wicked atheist, the humanist, the communist, the novelist and the politician. Fear not the North Korean, the Islamist terrorist and the NSA. Who can enter this refuge to hurt us? “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” No possible way. “There is none like the God of Jeshurun.” “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
When Noah was preparing the ark for his escape from destruction, eventually everything was made ready. When finally the day came, the Lord said to him: “come thou and all thy house into the ark.” Noah joined the Lord inside that great barge – a refuge from the storm. That ark was an illustration of the very heart, arms and salvation of Jehovah.
Home should be the most comfortable place on earth to you. It doesn’t matter if your home is a cottage, an apartment, or a mansion overlooking the lake. If it is yours – even if only temporarily – it becomes the most pleasant place on earth. Though the years, I have been privileged to sleep in the homes of dozens of pastors and their families. Sometimes Judy and I have stayed in houses far more luxurious than anything you and I possess. But in every case I have been less than comfortable, because it was not MY home. Home should be the place of your sweetest rest. I can go to sleep anywhere and usually at any time. I can sleep with my head on my desk. I can sleep in the car, at your house, or in the dentists chair. But my most restful sleep is in my own bed in my own home. Home should be the place of our best earthly happiness. Home should be the place where our loved ones can be found. Home is one reason we go to work and labour and sweat for our living.
And each of these things should also be true of your relationship to the God of Jeshurun. We should be more comfortable with the Lord, than with our own hearts. We should be so at peace in Christ, that He becomes a place of sweet rest. “In him we live and move and have our being,” so in Him should be our greatest joy. Oh, that it were true that all our loved-ones are with us in this ark and den of refuge. This relationship to Christ should be the home that we work to improve and glorify.
Now, let me remind you that it is the ETERNAL GOD who is our refuge.
I was startled years ago as I researched the word “eternal.” I found that the words “eternal” and “eternity” are found only three times in Old Testament. Furthermore, they come from three different Hebrew words – none were used a second time. And here, this particular word specifically means “what is before in time.” The God of Jeshurun is the One, the only one, who has always been before in time. And perhaps this Hebrew doesn’t express the thought, but he is also the One, the only One who shall always be after time, as well. “Now unto the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. amen.” Only Jehovah can lift up His hand to heaven, and say, “I live for ever” – Deuteronomy 32:40.
Do you remember when, during the days of Elijah, famine was ordained for Israel? The prophet was sent out to a little brook to be fed of the Lord. Daily a flock of ravens brought to the prophet a bit of food, perhaps stolen from very table of Ahab. And the little rivulet beside his refuge brought the man of God a drink of water. But eventually that brook dried up. Nevertheless, because the eternal God was his refuge, Elijah was sustained throughout the famine. Earthly refuges come and go, but the eternal God is the refuge of Jeshurun.
“We have a refuge that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll.” “Underneath are His everlasting arms and He shall thrust out the enemy from before us.” “Jeshurun shall dwell in safety,” when they stay under the sheltering wings of the Almighty. Happy art thou, O Jeshurun. Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord. Jehovah is “the shield of our hope and sword of our excellency.” What a joyful thought and promise.
But please remember – these promises and these blessings are not for universal consumption. Only those who have been redeemed; only the justified are called “Jeshurun” by God. Only those who have been declared righteous by the sovereign God have access to the arms of the eternal God of Jeshurun.
Does that include you? Can you say, “I know whom I have believed and I am (thoroughly) persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day?” Do you live in humble repentance before God, hating your sins as much as He does? Is your faith and only hope for eternal life resting in Christ Jesus and the sacrifice which He made at Calvary?