Tag Archives: eternity

God, The Righteous Judge

The LORD judges the peoples; 
judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me. 
(Psalm 7:8 ESV)

God is a benevolent Judge, who responds to sin according to laws based upon His eternal nature and character in both harsh and compassionate ways. God is omnipresent. He cannot abide even one sin in His presence in eternity.

Adam sinned when he ate the forbidden fruit. God warned Adam what would happen when he sinned. “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (die, die) (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV). God said Adam would die die. Not only would Adam die physically, though not immediately, he would die spiritually. Spiritual death is being denied that which sustains spiritual life. Spiritual life is the presence and sustenance that is God. God did not immediately execute the death sentence against Adam, who continued living in the physical world. Adam lived 930 years and then physically died. God continued to have a relationship with Adam. But Adam’s sin brought both physical and spiritual death to all people. Not everyone who dies physically will die spiritually.

God compassionately prepared a means for those who sin even one sin to be restored to a righteous relationship with Him. From eternity God decided to send His Son to take upon Himself the sin of the people.

To judge means to contend or plead, to act as a legal magistrate by rendering a verdict and executing a sentence. Judge also means to govern. Justice and righteousness are fundamental to God’s eternal nature. God cannot be unjust or unrighteous. Nor can He render unjust or unrighteous decisions or acts in a way contrary to His eternal nature. We struggle with God’s actions and words because they do not seem fair. We equate fairness with justice. We cannot imagine God hating anyone He created in His image. This is because we do not understand the words “love” and “hate” as used by God.

As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:13-16 ESV; cited from Malachi 1:2-3)

In Hebrew the word loved means to have human appetite for another, such as a friend or one with whom there is an intimate sexual relationship. This includes God’s love for a person, nation, and all people. The Greek the word is agapao, which is Godly love, which means to be well pleased and to love dearly. Hated is used in contrast to the word loved. God hated, which in Hebrew means to find odious, those persons who continue to rebel against Him after being commanded to return and obey Him. In Greek the word means to detest. God loves those who love Him and hates those who hate Him. Those who hate Him are released from His presence in eternity, driven away from God with whom they want nothing to do.

This does not mean God is controlled by either the love or hatred of those He has created. God acts with love toward those who love and obey Him. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10 ESV). Conversely, God will act with hatred toward those who hate Him. In both cases God choses to act in a manner consistent with His holy, righteous and eternal character. God will judge people based upon the intentions of their hearts and their actions, which is the outward evidence of their hearts.

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:24-27 ESV)

Does judging someone according to the eternal laws of God based upon the evidence of their lives make God unjust? He created people in His image. That image is not contaminated with sin even though the vessel containing His image is corrupt. People are at war within themselves, irresistibly drawn toward Him because of His image in them. Yet, people are tugged and pulled away from God by sin, which is also in them. God makes a way in His compassion and mercy for those created in His image to come to Him through the covering of their sin by the blood of Christ. Those who reject God’s call, disobeying His command to repent, sin. One sin. There is a sin which is unforgivable. It is the rejection of the command to obey God given to each person by the Holy Spirit. “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:31-32 ESV).

God loves those who follow Christ and they will live in His presence for eternity. Those who hate Christ, God will expel from His presence for eternity. God is righteous in His judgment.

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Consequences of Sin

let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, 
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.
Selah.(Psalm 7:5 ESV)

Only the righteous can stand before God. “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers” (Psalm 5:5 ESV). 

We see in the Hebrew Scripture instances where an adversary stands before God and challenges Him in how He treated people. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them” (Job 1:6 ESV; see also Job 2:1) Satan is a proper noun, not a name, and means adversary, one who withstands or stands against. Twice in the book of Job, a spiritual being who was an adversary contests God’s dealings with Job, whom God calls a righteous man. Twice, God gives the adversary permission to deal with Job in a harsh manner, to test Job’s resolve to serve God. 

In another instance Jesus tells Peter that an adversary has asked for him.“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:31-32 ESV). If this adversary is the devil, he will finally be driven away from God and imprisoned for eternity. “[A]nd the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10 ESV).

Only God is righteous. He gives His righteousness to those who are His. He embeds His righteousness in those He creates and then in those who believe the Gospel. Those who rebel against God cannot compromise His righteous character. The moment they rebel and sin they cease being righteous before Him. For God’s enemies to find any evidence of sin in God they can use to accuse God of unrighteousness gives them control over Him. Jesus, in this Psalm, makes a statement that gives His adversaries control if they find such evidence of sin in Him. “[I]f there is wrong in my hand,” (Psalm 7:4 ESV) then let the enemy be victorious. 

The Deceiver looks for anything in God and those who are His to use against Him, and them, to claim victory. There is nothing. If there were, then Jesus tells us God cannot be God. If there is sin in God, in His Son, the King of kings, then let it pursue and overtake, trample His life and lay His glory in the dust. “Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust.”

Pursue means to persecute and is the same word used in verse 1. “O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me” (Psalm 7:1 ESV). Overtake means to reach out and secure, to attain. To tramplemeans to tread upon, to step on and stand on and laymeans to settle upon, dwell upon. These three words show absolute victory over an enemy. 

Being God’s enemy means God is viewed as an enemy. Those at war do not stop until they have utterly defeated their enemy. His pursuers and adversaries torment Jesus’ soul, that which is His very being, that which make Him who He is, His breath and substance, passions and desires, His moral character. Jesus’ enemy will examine on His life, that which is growing, active and fresh, the eternal energy which animates God. Jesus’ enemy, if there is found in Him any unrighteousness, will succeed in destroying God by overshadowing His glory, His splendor and honor, the eternal abundance of the riches, dignity and reverence due God because He is God. Should it find anything unrighteous in God, in His Son, then it has the upper hand and will defeat God.

This will never happen. The enemies of God cannot succeed in fining sin in God because there is no sin in God. There is no sin in His Son. Though Jesus walked the earth in the flesh and suffered the temptations of His enemies, He did not sin. He was God and Man the way God originally intended, a sinless servant.“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV). He alone, because He is sinless, is able to offer the sacrifice which covers our sin before God’s eyes. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV). If there is sin in Jesus he could never accomplish His eternal purpose. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV).

Jesus stood before kings and rulers and was condemned by them to death, though He was innocent of any crime against man or against God. They, led by the Deceiver, wanted Him dead because they want God dead. For some reason, the Deceiver thought they could kill Jesus. God cannot die. God cannot sin. None will take His place.

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right. (Isaiah 45:18-19 ESV)

God, The Deliverer

O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; 
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, 
(Psalm 7:1 ESV)

There is only One God.

In the beginning of time, before there was anything, there was God. He is uncreated, existing eternally. God is not constrained by time or anything created which is bound by time. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2 ESV). 

Theology finds a reasonable doctrine of the Trinity within Scripture. God is Three in One yet exists as One God in three persons. God, the Father, who created all things through His Word, God the Son, who brought all things into existence, and God the Spirit, who breathes into creation making it alive. Creation points to God. 

Man, created in the image of God, is the greatest evidence for the truth of God. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). There is only One God and all of creation points to Him. Man’s image, with all of the intricacies of the image, both spiritual and physical, is ageless evidence of the truth of the reality of God.

David begins Psalm 7 with a declaration of God. “O LORD, my God.” He declares God’s name, YHWH, first used 11 times in Genesis 2. His name is known from the beginning of time. David uses a combination of two words to describe God. YHWH means existing one. God alone existed before anything else. He adds the word elohiym, which means divine one, God, ruler and judge, but may also be used for the lesser gods and idols worshipped by people who hate God. Thus, God, the Existing One is given as a name and proper title of the only true God.

Only One God has the power and ability to deliver from sin and from the enemies of those who are citizens of His kingdom. To deliver means to tear away, strip off, snatch off, recover, rescue. Those who pursue with the intent of overtaking and destroying are relentless in their goal to hound and capture those who are their enemies. For the enemies of God are God’s enemies and are enslaved by sin. [T]he wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5 ESV). They can do nothing but sin. Like Cain, sin captures people. “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Sin’s desire is to totally possess every person. God cannot abide sin in His presence. “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4 ESV). There is a war between those who are God’s and those who are not God’s. On one side all die, for sin takes no prisoners. The other side is filled with those rescued and delivered from sin.

We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven, not of the dark, worldly, rebellious kingdom ruled by sin. We are chosen by God, set apart by the Spirit of God, covered with the blood of Christ. As citizens of His kingdom, our allegiance and commitment is to follow and obey Him. Peter writes to all Christians in the known world. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV). As citizens of God’s kingdom, we are at war with our own flesh, with the world and with the Deceiver, who wars to separate everyone from God.

Eternity is our home. God will finally deliver us from the world that continually attacks and pursues us to do us harm. Still, God has left us in the world for two reasons. We are to witness about Him and His wonder and power. He is also preparing us for eternity with Him. As citizens of His kingdom our every action shows we are His. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV). God created us for Himself. He will not leave us or abandon us but will rescue and deliver us from the assaults and relentless pursuit of our enemies.

Life or Death

For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? (Psalm 6:5 ESV)

God does not tell us much about eternity, either in or away from His presence. We can know being in His presence brings life and all of the peace and rest which comes with obedience and doing that for which people were created, and in Christ, re-created. We can also know those who exist outside of His presence, eternally absent from the source of life, are in agony and constant turmoil. These are simple and inadequate illustrations of the difference between heaven and hell. We know God will separate those who are His from those who continue willfully rebelling and sinning against Him.

God gives us clues about death, being separated from that which supports and maintains life. Death is the opposite of life. Death is non-life, removal from that which sustains life. In the physical world that which has life needs food, water and air. Remove any one of these three elements and life ceases, the organism dies and begins to decay. Sheol in the Hebrew is the equivalent of haides in the Greek, the grave, the pit, a place of no return, the place of the dead, the underworld. Both sheol and haides are considered hell by many. The place of the dead is not a place where those who die cease to exist but are conscious of who they are and their circumstances. 

David declares that those who have died have no remembrance of God and will not give Him praise. They will not remember Him nor thank Him or confess His greatness. This does not mean there is no consciousness for those in the grave. David is thinking of burial, the covering of dirt, entombing of a dead body, where it will decay. Those who knew the dead person can no longer hear their words or see their actions because in death they neither speak nor act.

Jacob uses the word sheol to describe what has happened to his son, Joseph, upon hearing the report of his death from his brothers. 

Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.(Genesis 37:34-35 ESV)

Those who have died are still under God’s control and government. Thus, the grave is an intermediate place between heaven and hell. Those who are wicked will eventually go to hell, away from God, the Giver of life, while those who are righteous will come into God’s eternal presence where they are sustained with life. Death and the grave bring mourning to those who remain alive. For those facing death there is tremendous fear of the unknown. They do not know what they are facing. 

King Hezekiah echoed David’s words as he lay dying, then wrote his own Psalm after he was healed, reflecting upon what God had done for him. When his body is placed in the grave he believed he would no longer praise God.

For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you;  those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. the father makes known to the children your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:18-19 ESV)

Jesus faced death. He saw beyond death. He spoke often about His own death but always continued speaking about His resurrection and what would happen because of His resurrection. During the last Passover week, Phillip and Andrew brought to Him a request by some Greek believers who wanted to see Jesus. Knowing His death would draw all men, Jews and Greeks, to Himself, He responded with a small parable. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:23-24 ESV). Many Christians believe this parable speaks directly to people. It does not. Jesus spoke about Himself. The grain of wheat is Jesus. Falling to the earth is His death. Bearing fruit is His resurrection. He must die to bring all to Himself. His fruit is the ingathering of all those who are His. They are in Him. He is their refuge.

But what of those who are not in Him? Death becomes eternal separation from God. There is a separation of those who hate God and continue in their rebellion against Him, and those who love God and obey His command to come to His Son. Hell becomes a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (see Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). Those who hate life are sentenced to not have life. Death ends life.

Those who love Him will receive life. But only those who love Him more than they love their own life will receive life from God. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:25-26 ESV). For those who are separated out for God, physical death is not the end but the beginning of true life. 

Facing Death

Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. (Psalm 6:4 ESV)

Only God can both save and deliver anyone’s life from death. Those who have faced death and lived are better able to see and know the value, or lack of value, of their life compared to their stuff. For those who face certain death, yet continue to live and who have no hope for eternity, their property becomes the only reason to live. Without their belongings they have nothing. They know they cannot take anything with them when they die so they cling to life as long as possible and covet that which was never theirs. For those who have hope for eternity, who know they are known and loved by God, material possession carries little or no value. Spiritual maturity brings a realization that only that which is eternal holds eternal value. Only the Word of God (God Himself) and people created in His image have value. 

Only God can determine eternal value. He created people for relationship with Him because He wants them with Him for eternity. Those who rebel against Him will continue to exist for eternity but will exist away from His known presence.

Hezekiah lay dying. Isaiah came to the king, delivering a hard message. “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover” (Isaiah 38:1 ESV; see 2 Kings 20:1, 2 Chronicles 32:24). Despondent, facing imminent death and deeply afraid, Hezekiah prayed.“‘Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly” (Isaiah 38:3 ESV; see 2 Kings 20:3). Isaiah returned, giving another message to the king.“Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isaiah 38:5 ESV; see 1 Kings 20:5). God listened to king Hezekiah. He did not avoid death but was given more time.

There are two things we should note about king Hezekiah. He did follow the LORD with his whole heart, doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD.“And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Kings 18:3 ESV; see 2 Chronicles 31:20). But his righteous works did not follow in those extra years given by God. The evidence is shown in the life of his son, Manasseh.  

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. (2 Kings 21:1-2 ESV; 2 Chronicles 33:9).

King Hezekiah was rich and became proud. After God healed him he did not continue working for God with his whole heart but exulted in his riches. Though he humbled himself, and God saved Judah and Jerusalem from the attack of the Assyrians, God still punished Israel for not seeking Him with the whole thinking of their hearts.

“But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem. But Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. (2 Chronicles 32:25-26 ESV).

God turned away from His judgment and delivered Hezekiah’s life. God saved him because of His love. In his later life, Hezekiah did not return to God the compassion and grace he was given. 

God did not turn away from, or stop the required judgment against sin endured by Jesus even when He asked God. Jesus did respond to God’s mercy and compassion in a way that lifted up God before all the people.

Without an eternal perspective life is self-focused and people are self-absorbed. Created in the image of God, people are given the natural and eternal ability to know Him intimately. Replacing Him with stuff is idolatry. Those who do not intimately know God are agonizingly afraid of death and the unknown. Those who do intimately know God, and are known by Him, are peacefully at rest with death. There may be fear of the process of dying but not of death itself. Death, separation from this sinful world, our sinful flesh and the constant attacks of the Deceiver, brings relief. We know this because of Jesus, who was raised from the dead, tells those who are His they will be with Him in eternity. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 ESV).

COVERED

For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12 ESV)

God blesses the righteous. In Psalm 1, God blesses a righteous man. “Blessed is the man who walks not …”  (Psalm 1:1 ESV). This opening statement of the Psalms points to the One Man who has never done anything wicked or sinful. There is only One. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If anyone else is righteous before God it is because they are found in Christ. They take refuge in Him. God blesses those in Christ because He blessed Christ and what happens to the Son of God happens to those in Him. “Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6 ESV).

How does God bless the Righteous One and those found righteous in Him? He will cover Him, which means to surround and to give a crown. Not only does God protect Him, spreading His “protection over them” (Psalm 5:11), those in Christ, but He gives Him a crown, seating Him in Zion. “As for men, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill”  (Psalm 2:6 ESV).Where God’s King is, so are His citizens.

Favor  is goodwill, acceptance, delight and pleasure. A shield  is a buckler and can also mean something piercing, a hook or barb. A shield is a defensive weapon designed to stop any attack without qualification. God does not even allow an attack to occur but hooks those who hate Him and leads them away from His presence.

God will allow nothing into eternity that conflicts with His ultimate will and purpose. His presence is enough to keep all protected from sin, from the Deceiver, and the world that draws people away from Him. There is no danger in His presence. There is peace and rest given to all whom he draws to Himself. Those found in Christ are protected and secure in their being and place before Him.

Throughout Jesus’ last week, after He entered the Temple and violently drove out those who desecrated His Father’s house, He challenged and was challenged by the religious leaders. They questioned Him, His authority, and His reason for acting violently against them. He challenged them, telling them parables meant to convict and draw out their sin so they might see their sin and repent. Just before launching into a long, multi-pronged accusation of them, Jesus asks them a simple question. Whose son is the Christ? “Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?  They said to him, ‘The son of David’” (Matthew 22:41-42 ESV). They rightly answered. Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of God, known as Christ, is a descendant from the lineage of King David. He is a Man, as God originally created Man, without sin and with the character and personality of a servant, as Adam was created. 

Jesus then asks them other questions. “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him, Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45; see Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:34-35, Hebrews 1:13). How can Messiah be a son of a sinful man? How can Messiah be a man at all?

They were confounded. “And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions”(Matthew 22:46 ESV). They challenged God to debate. They sought to impose their traditions and will upon Him whom they are designed to serve. They refused to accept the words and works of the Man standing before them aware of the miracles He had performed, doing that which only God could do. Messiah was standing before them and they rejected Him.

David wrote the Psalms as prophecies of Messiah, of Christ. David’s heart reflected the thinking of the heart of Jesus. Though they hated Him and put Him to death, He fulfilled God’s ultimate, eternal purpose, and lives, reigning in eternity over His kingdom. His citizens are with Him. God’s blessings are on them because of Jesus. His blood covers them with His righteousness, protecting them. Christ’s blood is the only defense against sin, stronger than any fortress, impenetrable, a shield of God’s favor and protection.

Refuge

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them,  that those who love your name may exult in you. (Psalm 5:11 ESV)

When threatened people stand and fight, shake in fear, paralyzed and unable to move, or flee to a protected place. A refuge  is a trusted place where those who belong to God flee from danger, knowing His protection is guaranteed. However, God’s refuge is not a physical place. He does not take people out of the world when they are in danger. Those who are in Christ are hidden in His Son, filled with His Spirit, and guaranteed eternal life. God blesses those in Christ because He blesses Christ, the only One who lived a full life in the flesh and never sinned. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1 ESV). Those in Christ are in God’s refuge. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him”  (Psalm 2:12 ESV).

Finding refuge in God through Christ brings eternal joy, even when surrounded by temporal chaos. They not only rejoice, which is to make glad, but they ever sing for joyEver  means from ancient times into eternity, indefinite and unending. To sing for joy means to give a ringing cry out of perpetual gladness. Those who face the wrath of the world because of their relationship with God in Christ will endure persecution for righteousness’ sake. 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

Living in the world and facing persecution does not feel like having God’s protection. Trust, which is part of the description of a refuge, is an emotional response to the sure promises of God and integral to a healthy, whole faith. He has promised those who are His eternity with Him, where there is no sin. “Evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4 ESV). In the refuge of His eternal presence is His protection, a hedge or fence, woven together, strong beyond comprehension. Nothing that is not of God gets through this barrier. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory”  (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV).

God protects those who love Him. We often do not see His protection. When He allows us, those who are His, to feel the brunt of persecution for righteousness’ sake, it may seem He has withdrawn His refuge and abandoned us to the world. Yet, being in Christ means that what happens to Christ happens to us, and what happens to us happens to Christ. Jesus endured the cross for our sake and bids us take up our cross, which is, in reality, His cross, and follow Him. “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27 ESV). Our identity with Christ is complete. Our obedience to God is a natural result of our being in Christ. He who raised Christ from the dead will also raise us and bring us into eternity with Him. Nothing this world can do will separate us from Him.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?   (Romans 9:31-35 ESV)

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on His way to cleansing the Temple, a crowd of people filled with children sang out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9 ESV). Some Pharisees standing there told Jesus to rebuke His disciples and stop them from singing out to Him. “He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out’” (Luke 19:40 ESV). After driving out the people desecrating His Father’s House, the children continued to sing “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:15 ESV), causing the indignation of the chief priests. Those who love God cannot help but sing out in joy. They exult in Him, which is to give glory, rejoice, act triumphantly, and take the greatest pride. He is everything.