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shelter in a park July 16 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Isaiah 1:1- 4:6; Psalms 87, 125

Where is our Shelter?

We have all fled for shelter from storms. Perhaps it was a tree (a poor choice with lightening present), a picnic shelter, the shelter of a car, a house, or in the event of a tornado, a basement. In a poor economy people look for tax shelters. Where do we find shelter in other times of adversity, like war, family problems (which can sometimes be like a war), and spiritual challenges?

The nation of Judah was still in the land of Israel, but she had been recently besieged by Assyria. Because King Hezekiah led the people to find shelter in the Almighty All- powerful God, God delivered Judah from Assyria by killing 185,000 Assyrian soldiers and officers. The Assyrian King returned home in shame and then was killed by his sons. Several years had now passed. Judah again slipped into idolatry. She became as wicked as her sister nation Israel, who was conquered and taken away by Sargon II, an Assyrian king. A new enemy now besieged Judah: the Babylonians. Why? What happened? The prophet Isaiah heralds the reason,

Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.’ Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness-- only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil. Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. The Daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege,” (Isaiah 1:2-8, NIV).

The shelter in a vineyard and a hut in a field of melons are ways of expressing how weak Jerusalem’s defenses were. God compares the sins of the people of Jerusalem as being as wicked as the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were destroyed in the days of Lot (Genesis 18:20-33; 19:1-29). The people of Jerusalem continued to offer sacrifices, but these sacrifices became a stench in God’s nostrils because the people were so evil. God wanted them to stop doing wicked things and start doing right. Their hands, however, were full of blood from injustice, if not from real murder. Amazingly, God says to them:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet [blood red], they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken,” (Isaiah 1:18-20, NIV).

Have you ever felt it is too late for you to repent so that you may come under God’s protection? The longsuffering, mercy and love of God is great. Repent and turn to him; he will save you. Now is the day of salvation (2Corinthians 6:2).

In the last days (often a reference to the Millennial Reign of Christ and/or the Tribulation Period, both of which will be at the end of the age), nations and peoples will seek shelter in the mountain of the LORD (Jerusalem). They will want to learn the law of the LORD because God’s ways are the ways of blessing. He will help settle their disputes and bring them peace. The temple of God will be a shelter for His people. Isaiah extends this invitation “Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD,” (Isaiah 2:5, NIV). The same invitation could be extended to us. Will we accept it?

But now, at the time of Isaiah’s writings, the land of Judah was full of idols. As in the final Tribulation period, Isaiah sarcastically adjures Judah to “Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty!” (Isaiah 2:10, NIV). There is, of course, no place where we can find refuge from God. The only place we can find true refuge and peace is in God. He is our hiding place, our shelter in the time of storms (Isaiah 4:6).

Isaiah says of Judah,

Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves,” (Isaiah 3:8-9, NIV).

Have we done this? There is hope: Isaiah 3:10 says, “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds,” (NIV). If we likewise repent we will also find God’s mercy and grace.

Because Judah would not repent, however, “The LORD takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people. The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people,” (Isaiah 3:13-14, NIV). The elders and leaders of a nation are the most responsible for the sins of the nation. Where the leaders go the people often go as well. Jesus says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked,” (Luke 12:48b, NIV). What about us? Have we led others in righteousness? Have we led them to seek God as the shelter in their times of storms? Have we sought the LORD? Can we sing like the Psalmist in Psalm 87:7 all my fountains [blessings] are in you?

Psalms 125:4-5 say, “Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. But those who turn to crooked ways the LORD will banish with the evildoers. Peace be upon Israel.” (NIV) The LORD does good to those who rely upon him, who walk righteously, and who find their shelter in him.

Lessons to live by:

  • It is not too late for you to repent so that you can come under God’s protection. The longsuffering, mercy and love of God is great. Repent and turn to him, and he will save you (more...).
  • The temple of God will be a shelter for His people. Isaiah extends this invitation “Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD,” (Isaiah 2:5, NIV). The same invitation could be extended to us. Will we accept it?
  • There is no place where we can find refuge from God. The only place we can find true refuge and peace is in God. He is our hiding place, our shelter in the time of storms (Isaiah 4:6).
  • Where the leaders go the people often go as well. Lead others to find their shelter in God. The LORD does good to those who rely upon him, who walk righteously and find their shelter in him.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (NIV)

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