Sunday, October 5, 2014

See God {Day 5: The God of Refuge}

The analogy of wings providing refuge is a common one in the Bible. Just one reference to that is in Psalm 91:4: "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." We see that it is God's character to gather his beloved under the protection of His outstretched arm as they cling to Him in faith. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus the Son shared his Father's character as he cries out, "I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings." What heartbreak Jesus must have endured to have his own people reject his love.

While the imagery of being underneath the Almighty's "wings" is a nice thought, it actually has its roots in something much deeper. In Numbers 15:37-40, God instructs Moses that the Israelites are to make tassels on the corners of their garments. These fringes or tassels are to serve as a constant reminder that they should obey the Lord their God.

In Judaism, the men are to wear prayer shawls. The prayer shawl is called a "tallit," which means "little tent." Each man would have his own private sanctuary to meet with God in. The corners of the prayer shawl has fringes (called "tzitzit") and are often called "wings." In fact, the Hebrew word for "borders" in Numbers 15:38 is the same word for "wings" in Psalm 91:4!! It is "kanap" which means wing, corner, hem, or extreme part. As the arms under the prayer shawl are extended, it looks as if wings are being held out.
In Psalm 91, we see that if we choose to dwell in the shelter of the Most High, we will find protection, peace, and deliverance. God's very "truth" becomes our shield. As Jewish men wear their prayer shawl, they are proclaiming that they are in close proximity with the Father. They are said to be dwelling under the Father's wings. As we run to our Abba in prayer, we proclaim the same thing. As we flee to Him, he literally entwines us in, as if a screen were put up against the enemy.

In Matthew 9:20, we see a woman desperate for healing. She has been hemorrhaging for twelve years. She understood scripture and took a risk of faith. She knew Malachi 4:2 to say that "the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings." Understanding the customs of her day, she knew that "wings" could be synonymous to the tassels/fringes on a person's garment. And so that is exactly what she reached for on Christ's body that day when she took her risk of faith.

She could have reached for his arm, or something that would seem more meaningful than a hem. But, she believed that if he truly was the Messiah described in Malachi, then there would be healing in that hem or fringe. And so, her faith made her well.
Our God is a God of refuge.

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