Isaiah 26:1 “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation is established as its walls and ramparts.”
Walls….the subject itself sounds as interesting as watching paint dry. My wife likes to design. Give her a floor plan and her mind starts whirring like a wound up clock, thinking about each space, moving a wall, changing the lights, or installing windows, the creativity she shows is astounding to me.
My responsibility used to be hanging things on those walls. She would point and step back, envisioning the order of decor and then instructing me on how to hang her arrangement that makes a home cozy. It all sounded so fanciful until I hung the first couple items.
My responsibility for hanging items on walls has long since come to an end. After a few times of arranging the pictures slightly askew or closer than desired, I was told that I had been relieved of the duty. My friend Brad assumed my role of hanging things soon after I was demoted. The stories of my malaligned efforts has cascaded into an almost folklore of history. It was told that once upon a time, my friends son, upon entering a motel years ago witnessed a shelf that was leaning dramatically to the side at a tilt, he then exclaimed, “look dad, it appears Mr. Fox hung the shelf here”……Brad made sure he shared this with me. We had a good laugh together but I still refuse to think I’m as bad as they all say I am.
Amos 7:7-8 “This is what He showed me: Behold, the Lord was standing by a wall true to plumb, with a plumb line in His hand. “Amos, what do you see?” asked the LORD.
“A plumb line,” I replied.
“Behold,” said the Lord, “I am setting a plumb line among My people Israel; I will no longer spare them:”
What was it that God used as a plumb line against His people?
***The Moral law***
The standard of perfection is the standard the moral law upholds. Sin is a violation of this law and the strength of the people becomes compromised when they remove themselves from God’s standard of Holiness.
For millennia, walls were critical for protecting a city. The multitude of tribes and city states contributed to the continuous conflicts, wars, and subsequent dangers that besieged the people.
Even with walls a city was not guaranteed protection, it certainly helped when they were made thicker and higher. Sometimes a second wall was built or some other form of protection was made such as a moat or a high position on a hill. History proves that every position and attempt that was made to protect the people was overcome by an army that was determined to capture it. The conquering army would overwhelm the defenses, cut off all supply and starve them out or build ramparts and slowly provide an avenue for attack. No position was too high and no amount of time was too long if the invading army was determined enough…..unless the Lord was protecting the people.
Psalm 118:10-14 “All nations surrounded me,
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
They surrounded me,
Yes, they surrounded me;
But in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
They surrounded me like bees;
They were quenched like a fire of thorns;
For in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
You pushed me violently, that I might fall,
But the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.”
The ways that people tried to protect themselves was often times an illusion of safety. By building up their strongholds, their faith was placed in their efforts and if their efforts were not good enough, they paid with their lives. There is no wonder why people feared so much and why God was continually reminding them of why they should not fear when He is Lord over them.
Psalm 127:1 “A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.”
Safety is only an illusion.
If you think anything in this world is secure, you haven’t lived long enough to know better. Whether it is money, health, or anything that promises stability and gives the illusion of consistency, the only sure hope is in God.
One thing I like to remind patients who have been worrying before their procedure, is how much that worry helped after the procedure was through, the usual answer was “not a bit”.
What is the approach we should take when it comes to the things we can’t fully control?
Jeremiah 10:23 “I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.”
If we can’t foretell our future and what will become of the decisions we make, then how can we be sure of anything of ourselves? There are simply too many variables in life to maintain control on our own, we have to trust someone else and the Lord is the only reliable source.
When the Lord says, “do not fear for I Am with you”, He is saying He is faithful regardless of the circumstances.
Our future is secure in Christ alone.
If you have built a wall for yourself, your wall is unstable and the Lord will tear it down. Any hope that we place in ourselves or in our own constructs is a hope that is separate from trust in the Lord.
Whatever protection or security you desire, it must be established in the One who is reliable and trustworthy.
Psalm 127:1 “He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth He has established forever.”
The Lord builds protection in our lives, He lays the foundation of Truth, He constructs a city that is our home to come and it is glorious. If we place our security in Him, we don’t need to fear. The One who dwells on High has guarded His people from the beginning and like the Missionary John G. Patton and his wife, the Lord will protect you.
One night Paton and his wife found themselves threatened by hostile natives who surrounded their mission headquarters. The Patons thought for sure that the natives would burn down the headquarters and kill them both. They prayed throughout the night asking God to protect them from harm. The next morning they were astonished when they realized that the natives had gone away. They had no idea where or why they had left. The missionaries again prayed and thanked the Lord for saving them.
About a year later, the chief of the native tribe who had threatened them became a Christian. He came to visit the Patons. When he was asked about the incident of that night of terror, the chief told the Patons that he and his men were too fearful to carry out their plans of attack. They had seen an army of giant men in “shining garments with drawn swords in their hands” surrounding the mission grounds. Paton and the chief agreed that there was no explanation other than that God had sent angels to keep the missionaries from harm.
Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
Like walls, chariots and horses were symbols of strength. If you had a large wall, and many horses, you would be a formidable opponent. We have retold the stories of the impregnable walls of Jericho that collapsed before the army of the Lord, the Egyptian chariots are at the bottom of the Red Sea…whatever strength they thought they had, it simply wasn’t enough.
Where does your strength dwell? If it is in the Lord, it is secure.