We all need a place of refuge. A place of refuge is also called a sanctuary or an asylum because it is where a person could go to in times of distress or danger. All people come face to face with distress. How aweful it must be for people who could not find a place of refuge when distress or danger comes.
The real threat and dangers of COVID-19 is one of the greatest distresses we have experienced. Many people lost their lives. We lost loved ones. We came face to face with grief and fear. The danger of COVID force us to seek a place of refuge. A place where we can be assured that there is hope and safety in the middle of this crisis. What makes COVID-19 a terrible distress is because there is no place, absolutely none, where we could be safe and secure. Then, we realize that the only hope we have is God. The safest place is in the hands of God. COVID-19 opened our eyes to this truth. God and God alone could shield us and take us to the place of peace in the middle of turbulent times.
At present, COVID-19 continues to evolve into a more contagious virus and it does not cease to scare and infect people. Where is our place of refuge but in God alone? In God we live, move and have our being (Acts 17:28). In Him, we live and die; whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8).
On top of this great risk we face, we have our own individual fights in life that we go through daily. Every need and problem that we face. Some wake up each day not knowing how to start the day or where to start. There are so many people struggling. Each one of us deals with some burden that we carry. All of us, in one way or another, need a place of refuge where to run to and escape from the threat and danger. A place where we could hide and feel safe. By personal experience, I could say, Jesus Christ is the sure refuge that keeps us strong, sane, and hopeful throughout this pandemic. God is our hiding place.
For in the day of trouble, he will keep me secretly in his pavilion. In the secret place of his tabernacle, he will hide me. He will lift me up on a rock.”– Psalms 27:5 (WEB)
Jesus Christ is our sure refuge. God is merciful and full of compassion. We could see that even in the Old Testament times.
Reading Joshua 20 made me realize all the more how God cares for everyone. Joshua 20 relates how God instructed Joshua to build cities of refuge to provide a place of hiding and shelter to people, even strangers, who unintentionally committed murder. So, at the command of God, Israel set up 6 cities of refuge which are also lands that are part of the allotments for the Levites, where anyone who unknowingly or unintentionally killed someone could easily run to the place to be safe from the kin of the victim who wanted to avenge the blood of their dead relative.
God cares for a just and safe society. God understands our human weakness that we could fail and commit mistakes unintentionally. It is so comforting to know how God helps preserve the life of the innocent and provides a way to help the ones who seek protection.
The person who was in hiding in the place of refuge needed to do two things:
- He shall flee to one of those cities, and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declare his case in the ears of the elders of that city (Joshua 20:4).
- He shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days. Then the man slayer shall return, and come to his own city, and to his own house, to the city he fled from (Joshua 20:6).
The person who unknowingly murdered another person can stay protected as long as he stays in the city of refuge, wait for his trial before the people, and as long as he waits until the death of the high priest. When the high priest dies, he shall be free to return safely to his own city.
Upto the present time, all of us who are guilty of sin, could always run to our High Priest, Jesus Christ for safety, protection, and defense. Upon the death of our High Priest on the cross, we are rendered guiltless and we attained peace with God. We can enjoy freedom and we are no more imprisoned, but only if we believe in Jesus Christ, seek Him and depend on Him for our life. Remember, the person who ran to the cities of refuge had no other safe place to go. The only hope and security for that person is the city of refuge. When we approach Jesus Christ, the High Priest, in the same manner, as our only hope and our only salvation, we could experience the refuge in times of need.
“Having then a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let’s hold tightly to our confession. For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let’s therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need.”– Hebrews 4:14-16 (WEB)
Like the ones who innocently slayed another person ran to the cities of refuge and presented their case to the elders and waited for the death of the high priest to be set free, so we could run to God, seek His protection, and experience safety and security through Jesus Christ our Lord, our High Priest. His death on the cross freed us from guilt and made available to us all the things we need to live a blessed life.
Jesus Christ is our place of refuge. He is the sure help in times of trouble. He is the strength we need. Make Him your dwelling place and you shall rest in His shadow giving you refuge and fortress (Psalms 91:1-2).
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we won’t be afraid, though the earth changes, though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas; though its waters roar and are troubled, though the mountains tremble with their swelling.”– Psalms 46:1-3 (WEB)