shelter in a park July 16 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Isaiah 1-4; 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, 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, and spiritual challenges?

In our Bible reading, we see the nation of Judah is still in the land of Israel, but Assyria is laying siege to her capital, Jerusalem. Because King Hezekiah leads the people to find shelter in the Almighty All-Powerful God, He delivers Judah from Assyria by killing 185,000 Assyrian soldiers and officers. The Assyrian King returns home in shame and then is killed by his sons.

Several years pass, and Judah again slips into idolatry. She becomes as wicked as her sister nation Israel, whom the Assyrian General Sennacherib conquered and exiled. A new enemy now besieges Judah—the Babylonians. Why? The prophet Isaiah tells us,

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).

A shelter in a vineyard and a hut in a field of melons are ways of expressing how weak Jerusalem’s defenses are.

God likens the wickedness of the people of Jerusalem to those of Sodom and Gomorrah. Those cities were destroyed in the days of Lot, Abraham's nephew (Genesis 18:20-33; 19:1-29).

The people of Jerusalem continue to offer sacrifices, but they are a stench in God’s nostrils because the people are evil. The LORD wants them to stop doing wicked things and start doing right. Their hands, however, are full of blood (guilt) from injustice, if not from real murder. Nevertheless, 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).

Perhaps some of us want God's protection but feel it is too late to come to Him for forgiveness. The patience, mercy, and love of God, however, is great. If we turn to Him, away from our sins with genuine remorse, He will save us. Now is the day of salvation (2Corinthians 6:2).

In the last days (often a reference to the Tribulation Period and/or the Millennial Reign of Christ, both of which will be at the end of the age), nations and their people will seek shelter in the mountain of the LORD (Jerusalem). They will want to learn the law of the LORD because His ways bring blessings. 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 to Israel: “Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD” (Isaiah 2:5, NIV).

A similar invitation is extended to us. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!' And let him who hears say, ‘Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17, NIV).

But now, at the time of Isaiah's writings, the land of Judah is full of idols. As in the final Tribulation period, Isaiah sarcastically tells 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. Refuge and peace are only found 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. The LORD says to Isaiah, “Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds” (Isaiah 3:10, NIV). If we turn to God from our sins, we will also find His mercy and grace.

Because Judah will 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 are the most responsible for the sins of the nation. Where the leaders go the people follow. 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? Do we lead others in righteousness? Do we encourage them to seek God as the shelter in times of storms? Do we seek the LORD? Can we sing like the hymn writer in Psalm 87:7 all my fountains [blessings] are in you?

Another Psalmist writes, “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” (Psalms 125:4-5, 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 us to turn from our sin to God so we can come under His protection. The longsuffering, mercy and love of God is great. If we are remorseful and turn to Him, He will save us (more...).
  • Similar to the invitation to the Israelites is an invitation to us, to come and taste of the water of eternal life.
  • There is no place where we can find refuge from God. True refuge and peace are only found in God. He is our hiding place, our shelter in the time of storms (Isaiah 4:6).
  • Where the leaders go the people follow. We need to encourage others to find their shelter in God.
  • The LORD does good for those who rely upon Him, who walk righteously and find their shelter in Him.

Focus Verse

Psalm 91:1 (NIV) “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

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