“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
“There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.
“Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.
I recently taught a class on the book of Exodus and reminded everyone of the fact that God demanded that the children of Israel keep the Sabbath day. It was supposed to be a day of rest; when one does not cook, clean, work in the fields . . . but rests. Slaves, animals and all of Israel were to engage in the Sabbath rest.
Sabbath assemblies in the synagogue would consist of Jews gathering together to worship. Part of the purpose was to cause man to stop thinking about everything else and consider God and what he was doing for mankind. God wanted them to stop to consider his blessings. God wanted them to stop and realize there is more to life than just the problems of man – to remember that God (was) and still is in control and to remind that that their only hope is in him. HE PROVIDES!
The children of Israel did not keep Sabbath as exemplified in Nehemiah 13:15-22. Nehemiah had to deal with the issue as they continued to work and make a living on that day as all others.
Why did God want his people to stop what they were doing? They needed to rest. So often we fail to realize that we need to stop and think about God! We need to meditate on him!
It was partially due to their failure to obey this law that caused the captivity. And when they came back for Babylonian captivity, Jewish leaders then made extra “laws” about Sabbath keeping to the point that the already burdened would have more burdens in trying to obey God!
Jesus condemned the Jews for their failure to keep Sabbath. The Jewish leaders, like so many, went overboard after realizing that they had sinned in not keeping Sabbath. They made extra laws so that Sabbath keeping became yet another burdensome to people.
Why all this discussion about the Sabbath? The Israelites were so busy living that they never took time for God. We are so busy living that we do not take time for God. Today we rush about like ants trying to get what we need to live another day! We don’t take time off! We are tired – we don’t enjoy life – it is hard work constantly scrambling and scrabbling for another dollar to make ends meet.
The Psalmist reminded them and us that we just need to be still.
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The word “still” comes from a Hebrew word that means feeble, fail, weaken, idle, stay, slack, faint, and cease. To relax or withdraw, to let drop, abandon and be quiet.
We are also to “know” – understand, consider, declare, teach, that God is God! To know him reminds us that God is our refuge and strength when we struggle with . . . anything. The earth can quake; the mountains can move; the water may flood – but God is still there to aid us.
He is our refuge – a place of trust.
He is our strength. In Psalms 18:2 the psalmist said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my strength, in whom I trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
He is our present help – a help “found exceedingly” when we need him.
Consider the works of the Lord! He has punished man and creation for the sin of man.He makes desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth. He ends the conflicts of man – by sending his Son who brought the gospel of peace. When we have the gospel in our hearts and lives, we are have peace with God and with man.
Take time for God! Remember what he has done, what he is presently doing and will do for all of us. Be still and know that he is God!