Safe in a Place of Shelter
Read: Genesis 3; Genesis 7:1-16
Last evening as my husband was surfing through the channels, he stopped on a local station that was highlighting a storm that appeared to be right on top of the Northern Hills of our state. Although it was not coming towards our little town, we have some loved ones whom it seemed, might be in the path of this dangerous looking system; so, we spent some time listening to what the meteorologist was saying. There was one phrase that the gentleman continued to repeat each time he spoke of a town that appeared to be in danger from this weather system. He kept saying to the residents of each town or area, that they should already be in their places of shelter. If not, they should enter into those safe places without delay because this storm was very dangerous. Even if tornadoes weren't spotted on the ground. There could be rain wrapped tornadoes that couldn't be seen, and ninety mile per hour winds were a real possibility, along with quarter size hail. After speaking of the danger, he then went on to describe places that were not suitable for shelters and where those in the path of this system could most likely remain safe. The people would not be safe in mobile homes or their vehicles. If they were in their homes, they should go into the most central place within the house such as a hall, pantry or coat closet. By all means, they shouldn't try to watch for the tornado by gazing out the window or leaving their homes. Over and over, he stressed the importance of taking his warning seriously and staying in the place of shelter. His words were calm but firm and direct. He was telling people what they should do to have the best chance to stay safe if the storm struck with the destructive power that seemed very possible according to what he was seeing as he spoke to them.
As I thought about the warnings and directives that we heard last night, it dawned on me that for the most part, people probably appreciated his words. I can't imagine that very many people resented his telling them to go to a place of shelter. After all, he was simply doing his job by giving out the most accurate information he could for the benefit of those who might be in peril. That made me think. Isn't that what God has done over and over in His Word? How many times has He given a warning to a man or to all of mankind? How many times has He held out that warning for man's good? How many times have the Lord's warnings been spurned and mocked? The paths that the Lord has illuminated through His warnings have been like sweet places of shelter, but too often, man has said no and suffered the consequences. Let's look at a few of these times.
1. God warned Adam that if he ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would surely die, Genesis 2:17. The first couple were free to enjoy everything else that God had provided in Eden. Adam and Eve ate, and death came to the garden that, prior to their disobedience, had been filled with only beauty, innocence and bliss.
2. God provided special food for the Israelites while they were in the wilderness. They had never seen anything like this before, and God gave it to them with a warning so that they would learn that they could trust in His provision. For six days, they were to gather the manna each day, but on the sixth day, they were to take enough for two days so they could rest on the Sabbath. Many did not heed God's warning. Instead, they kept the manna overnight and some of them didn't gather a double portion on the sixth day. Both of these acts of disobedience brought unwanted consequences. The bread that was stored up became putrid and the Lord rebuked them for their lack of trust, Exodus 16:14-30.
3. God warned the people through Noah that their rebellion and sinfulness was going to result in judgment. A flood would come that would kill every living person and animal who didn't take refuge in the ark, Noah's place of shelter. Noah was faithful both to build the boat according to God's directives and speak of the judgment that was to come in God's time. Nevertheless, no one except Noah and his family believed the warning; therefore, when the ark's door was shut, only those eight people and the animals the Lord brought into the ark survived, Genesis 7:1-16.
4. God warned Lot through an angel that judgment was coming to Sodom. He was to bring out his family before the fire and brimstone descended upon the whole area. Yet, in one of the saddest verses in the Bible, we read that the men pledged to Lot's daughters in marriage scoffed at Lot's warning, Genesis 19:14. They thought that he was making a joke, and they were swept away in the judgment. They mocked at the place of shelter.
Isn't it strange that people will often be grateful for man's warnings but spurn God's? Imagine it. The speeches of created men often carry more weight than the warnings of the One Who is Creator/Redeemer. The One before Whom each man will stand, Hebrews 9:27; Acts 17:31. The Lord isn't feared by many of those to whom He has given life. The words of the One Who cannot lie carry little weight compared to those whom the world esteems. Even so, we who love Jesus have the honor of directing people to the Place of Shelter, Jesus. He is the Only Way to God, John 14:6. He is the Only Mediator between God and man, 1 Timothy 2:5. He is the only Refuge from the judgment to come, Revelation 20:11-15, and our lives are hidden safely in Him, Colossians 3:3.
Lord, Help us to boldly tell others about our Place of Shelter. Thank You that any who do receive You will receive the right to become children of God, John 1:12. Thank You for the honor of speaking about what You have done for us and what You do each day as we walk with You.