It’s the beginning of a new year again, and with it, are a couple of contrasting prophecies. I think of Pat Robertson’s annual false prophecy bash â€“ remember his January 2007 prediction of a huge terrorist attack on the U. S. in which possibly millions will die? If he hasn’t repented of his false teachings, maybe he’ll issue “God’s revelations” of false prophecies for 2008 in the next couple of days.
But enough of fallen man’s rebellious contradiction of God’s Word. Let’s look at God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word in Psalm 46: God is our strong, ever-present refuge: (1) when creation is in upheaval (verses 1-3); (2) when enemies surround God’s people (verses 4-7); and (3) when he defeats his enemies (verses 8-11).
1. God is our refuge, fortress, bulwark, hiding place (vv. 1, 7, 11). He doesn’t just give us refuge and strength, but he himself is our refuge and strength, because he is ever with us. Therefore, we are not to fear, even in the midst of physical upheavals. Why? Because he controls even the heavenly bodies, the wind and the sea, and the highest mountains. Jesus showed this when he calmed the tempestuous sea (Mark 4:39).
2. From the chaos of the seas and mountains, the psalmist takes us to the serene, well-provided, and secure City of God. Even when God’s people are surrounded by raging enemies out to destroy them, they are unmoved, unshakable, and steadfast as a fortress on a hill. This is so because Immanuel himself dwells in the holy city â€“ he is the city’s bread of life, living water, and secure fortress.
3. Outside the City of God, the “nations rage,” “kingdoms totter,” and “kings of the earth… take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed” (Psalm 2:1, 2). But the Lord laughs at them in derision, terrifies them, and with “one little word” from his mouth “dash[es] them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:9). And as when the Israelites remained in stilled silence when God fought the Egyptians for them (Exodus 14:13-14), the City of God remains as still as a peaceful mountain stream and as a fortress at peace in the midst of the chaos of man’s rebellion against God.
A River that Makes Glad
Psalm 46 tells us the story of God’s redemption plan for his perfectly good creation. Adam’s fall into sin plunged his orderly creation into chaos and disorder not only in the heavenly bodies, the wind and the sea, and the highest mountains, but in man’s relationships with God and fellowmen as well. With the Fall came enmity between the City of Man and the City of God: there will be warfare between them throughout this age. The seed of the woman will always suffer at the hands of the seed of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).
God’s people will not only suffer persecution and death at the hands of their enemies, but they will be scarred by physical and emotional afflictions as well (Genesis 3:17-19). Relationships will always be strained, falling short of God’s perfect will for his people.
In the midst of this sin-cursed world, is there hope in 2008 for God’s people? Psalm 46 tells us, “Certainly!” Even in this present evil age, surrounded by our enemies, afflicted by physical, emotional, and spiritual sufferings, God gives us peace like a river and the assurance of faith. At the end of this age when Christ comes again, Psalm 46 guarantees our victory when the morning dawns, after our enemies assault us all throughout the desperate dark of night. By the sword that comes from his mouth, Christ will bring desolations on the nations and end their wars against God’s elect. All the kings of the earth will know that Jesus is Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords who reigns forever and ever (Revelation 19:6; Revelation 11:15).
And with each new year, God’s people move closer to the age to come, when there will be “a river whose streams make glad the city of God.” And on “on either side of the river,” Christ, “the tree of life” will be there “for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him” (Revelation 22:1-3).
God is our refuge and our strength (Click here to sing along)
Our ever present aid,
And, therefore, though the earth remove,
We will not be afraid;
Though hills amidst the seas be cast,
Though foaming waters roar,
Yea, though the mighty billows shake
The mountains on the shore.