Maybe you were the child that all your parents had to do was look at you sternly and you stopped misbehaving. Or maybe it took much more effort from your parents before it finally sunk in that what you were doing was wrong. Parents correct their children out of the love they have for them, not because they want to be mean, but because they want only the best for them. Our Heavenly Father does the same for us. Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” When we can view difficulties in our life as loving correction from God rather than just punishment…our entire spiritual perspective and faith will be impacted and increased.
It’s not God that loads us down with guilt and shame about our past. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. For it tells us in Psalm 103: 8-13, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” It’s only God’s merciful kindness towards us that takes our sins and throws them all into the Sea of Forgetfulness. It’s only us that dredge them back up and torture ourselves with them.
I had the “Rules of the Road” booklet for the State of Illinois out the other day when I thought to myself, “My goodness! Driving a car sure has lots of rules and regulations tied to it!” The same goes for the Old Testament Laws spoken of here…all 613 of them. In this verse Paul was quoting Deuteronomy 27:26 and basically telling us that it’s impossible to keep all 613 Laws perfectly. So what are we to do? We’re doomed before we even try. Enter Jesus Christ, who came to redeem us from the judgement and punishment of this curse, for it tells us in Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us…” In other words, our inability to keep all the Laws was overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
Both the words refuge and shade essentially mean the same thing here in this verse…a place of protection. Psalm 107: 27-29 gives us a vivid picture of when we are battered by the storms of life, “They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits end.” But it doesn’t need to be that way if we will call out to God. For He is our shelter, our shade, our refuge, and our hiding place from the storm. (Isaiah 4:6) And in this place of protection…we can finally experience peace.
Here Simon Peter was boldly speaking to the gathered crowd of curious onlookers on the Day of Pentecost. But what was the reason for his fearless and passionate speech?…he had seen the Lord. For it tells us in Luke 24:36 that the resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples. They touched Him, ate with Him, and were never the same after witnessing the once lifeless body of their Lord now alive. You can travel around the world and visit the tombs of other great religious leaders…but there is only one that is unoccupied…the empty tomb of Jesus Christ.
Earlier in this Book of the Old Testament Job had battled with his feelings of abandonment when he said that God was letting loose of his hand and cutting him off. (Job 6:9) Now Job’s feelings of confusion and sorrow were real…as real as the loss of all his children and property. But this feeling of being cut off from the Lord was incorrect…as was his feelings of hopelessness. For there will be many times in our lives that what we pray for and expect God to take care of won’t happen. The young child will still die an untimely death…the diagnosis of cancer will still take our dear friend…and our years-long prayer for a baby will go unanswered. But that doesn’t mean that God has turned His back on us or that He has banished all hope. In the 3rd chapter of Lamentations, Jeremiah’s overwhelming sorrow and hopelessness is overshadowed by this statement, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.” God is still there…still loving us…still in control. The question is, can you be ok with that?
The first part of this verse actually comes from Jeremiah 9:24 and is more of a warning…our praise should be to the Lord and not about ourselves. For when we laud our own accomplishments…God is quietly taken out of the picture, as if He had nothing to do with it. Thus we need to be seeking approval of God, not man. And this approval only comes from being tested, with endurance, not losing faith. I once heard it said, that if you think you’re a great leader but when you turn around no one is following you…you’re just out for a walk by yourself.