Sanctuary; July 22, 2019


Psalm 11:3 “When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

Two things strike me about this verse. One is a sharp difference in translation between the English and the Japanese here. Where English translations are pretty thoroughly agreed in saying “foundations,” the Japanese says, “sanctuary.” I don’t know that it makes a huge difference, but it’s interesting. The other thing is that the English and Japanese agree that this is part of the quotation that starts at the end of verse 1 with “Flee like a bird.” In other words, this is something said by someone who is trying to discourage you, to make you give up. However, David very rightly comes back by saying, effectively, that his foundation, his sanctuary, is the Lord Almighty, not any physical thing or even any social construct, and nothing can destroy Him. Recent years have seen severe attacks on the foundations of civil society, most notably in America and in China. Those attacks have taken very different forms, but their goal is to make people abandon God and His order of things, which makes their origin very clear. In America, some people have responded to the attacks by indeed fleeing, retreating to some place they can live “off the grid,” isolated from the chaos they see in society. They’re listening to the wrong voices! The Early Church should be very instructive here. God allowed persecution specifically to get them moving, away from the communal comfort of Jerusalem and out “to the ends of the earth” so that they could fulfill the Great Commission. In a few hundred years they managed to flip the Roman Empire to Christianity, but there were all sorts of problems there, too. The point for us today is to remember that whatever is happening in society around us, we are not powerless so long as we are rightly related to the Lord in faithful obedience. We are to be instruments of God’s name being acknowledged as holy and His lordship being established as His will is done, right here on earth as perfectly as it is in heaven. That won’t happen if we fear man more than we fear God.

Living in Japan, I view both America and China from a physical distance at least, but I feel a lot of emotional connection. China is ramping up active persecution of religion in general and using technology as a tool to that end. The Communist government is the very definition of “godlessness,” and they take pride in that. After all, a religious person has a higher loyalty than to the government, and they can’t allow that! However, their efforts are driving more and more people to take refuge in the only true sanctuary, the Lord Almighty who loved them enough to give His Son for them. In America, which was founded on expressly Christian principles, the picture is more chaotic, but light and darkness, good and evil, are being ever more starkly contrasted, and more and more previously lukewarm Christians are waking up. We may not like the fight, or even some of the people God chooses to fight for us, but we are not to “flee as a bird,” but rather submit to God and resist the devil. (James 4:7)

Father, thank You for this strong reminder. Help me support my brothers and sisters who are in the middle of the conflict through prayer, giving myself to You so that Your will may be done through me, whether I am physically involved or not. Help me recognize the devil’s schemes in my own immediate sphere as well, to stand firmly against them. Thank You for the assurance that the final outcome will indeed be glorious. Even so, come Lord Jesus! Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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