Isaiah 8:13-14 The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread. He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Matthew 24:1-2 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
- Reflect On: Isaiah 8:13-14 & Matthew 24:1-2
- Praise God: For dwelling with us.
- Offer Thanks: That God is a refuge for you.
- Confess: Any patterns of self-reliance that keep you from relying on God.
- Ask God: For the grace to be a refuge for others.
Every age and place seems to hold its share of danger and trouble. Who hasn’t at one time or other looked for refuge, for a place in which to shelter until danger passes? For the Israelites the Jerusalem temple seemed to be just such a place. After all, it was where God had placed His name, where He had chosen to dwell. Hadn’t God long ago promised that He Himself would be a sanctuary to Israel?
But the promises of God swing one way for the faithful and another for the faithless. As Isaiah prophesied, God would be a sanctuary for those who followed Him but a stone of stumbling for those who did not. Jesus Himself wept over Jerusalem, foreseeing a time when it would be overrun by its enemies, when one stone would not stand upon another, because its people had failed to recognize God’s coming to them.
In AD 30 Jesus predicted the temple’s destruction. His words must have sounded ridiculous to those accustomed to worshipping in such a magnificent structure. How would God not be pleased with it? After all, it had taken forty-six years to build, and the work was still not complete. Herod had spared no expense on the massive building project. Constructed of white marble, its eastern front was covered with plates of gold that reflected the rays of the rising sun. Yet forty years after Jesus’ prediction, the temple was destroyed. The Romans burned it to the ground when they overran Jerusalem in AD 70, and the six thousand people who had sought refuge inside the temple perished as well. It has never been rebuilt.
The New Testament clearly presents Jesus as the cornerstone of the new and living temple that God is building. As Christ’s followers, we are living stones, integral parts of a structure that is being built to last forever. Together we form the temple in which God dwells. Joined to Christ as the cornerstone and to our brothers and sisters, we are living stones cemented together by bonds of faith. In this way, we both find and become a place of refuge.
If this is God’s intention, what then is our experience? Do we draw strength and hope from Christ and from those who love Him, standing firm in our faith when life is difficult? Or do we revert to old habits and patterns of behavior that make it clear we are pinning our hopes not on God, but on our relationships, our sense of prosperity, our success? What if the stock market crashes next week? What if a spouse is diagnosed with a chronic and debilitating illness? What if a child dies? Where will we find refuge when everything in this world collapses? Let’s ask God today to give us a vision for what it means both to take refuge in Him and to become a refuge for others as we link our lives to His in faith.