MARCH 25, 2020

The Mighty Fortress

By Pastor Dennis Yim


Old Testament Passage: Psalm 46


1 God is our refuge and strength,

always ready to help in times of trouble.

2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come

and the mountains crumble into the sea.

3 Let the oceans roar and foam.

Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Selah

4 A river brings joy to the city of our God,

the sacred home of the Most High.

5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.

From the very break of day, God will protect it.

6 The nations are in chaos,

and their kingdoms crumble!

God’s voice thunders,

and the earth melts!

7 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;

the God of Israel is our fortress. Selah

8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:

See how he brings destruction upon the world.

9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth.

He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;

he burns the shields with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God!

I will be honored by every nation.

I will be honored throughout the world.”

11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;

the God of Israel is our fortress. Selah



The Mighty Fortress


Have you noticed that the Christian life is one filled with both great joys and chaos, happiness and sadness, hope and fear, compassion and anger? Have you noticed that throughout Scripture God doesn’t make things black and white, rather because of the Fall the human predicament is quite grey? In tumultuous and distressful times, God doesn’t say to simply forget about it and to fill your minds with happy and jolly thoughts because everything is going to be alright. Psalm 46 is fascinating because it calls us to be aware of our surroundings, to notice the fires around us, to acknowledge that not all is alright, but things are actually quite chaotic and miserable.


But what the psalmist teaches us is this: there is confidence in the Lord in the midst of our turmoil and distress. Notice how the psalmist doesn’t downplay his plight, rather, he’s honest and candid about it. He’s not an oblivious optimist nor is he a downright pessimist. This psalmist is a hopeful realist. He knows that in the midst of his present troubles, God is still with him. Why? Because he dwells in the city of God (Jerusalem), the very place where the temple of God was, and the temple represented the very presence of the Lord God. God’s presence provides protection, safety and serenity to all of God’s people. God is the mighty fortress who defends His people from all the atrocities, chaos, enemies and threats of the world. 



Jesus our Mighty Fortress


For Christians today, we believe that God no longer makes His special presence known in Jerusalem or in any specific physical location, or even in the church building. Jesus taught that the temple would be destroyed, and He said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days” (John 2:19), the disciples would later realize that this was a reference to His glorious and hope-inducing resurrection. What this means is this: Jesus is the very presence of God, rendering a building representing God’s presence on earth obsolete. When the curtain of the temple was torn at the time of Jesus’ death, it indicated the breaking forth of God’s holy presence throughout the world (Matt. 27:51). What all of this means for us today is this: whatever turmoil and chaos we may face, we will find confidence in Christ whose presence is with us – And behold, I am with you, to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20).


Jesus Christ provides us with His provision and protection. He will guide us through these uncertain and tumultuous times for He is the mighty fortress that cannot be overwhelmed by the brokenness and pandemonium of this world. Jesus will go before us and guide our steps to follow Him. The future hope is this: in the New Heavens and New Earth all things will be made right. However, until then, Jesus will do what is necessary to use us – His Church – to bring restoration and healing in this tumultuous world. What this requires from us is this: 1) placing your ultimate love in Jesus Christ who is your defender, comforter and mighty fortress, 2) being honest about what you and the rest of your community is concerned about, and 3) walking in His confidence in the midst of your turmoil and distress.


Let me end this with these words from Rev. Joe F. Kim, an EPC pastor in Flushing, NY, who’s church is in the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. I believe he captures the essence of Psalm 46:


Many people are going to get sick. Some may even die. But do not be anxious. Trust that there is someone who loves us, and has been working since the beginning of time to secure our eternal well-being. And use the peace that arises from that faith, a peace that transcends understanding, to bravely face the days ahead with sober courage. We are lighthouses...anchors in storms...shalom makers who are called sons of God by a world that groans, waiting to be set from its bondage to decay. So then love...love greatly...for this is the fulfillment of the Torah...the true end of religion.

 


Reflection and Prayer


Take some time to reflect with your family and friends on some of the things that is currently bringing you turmoil and distress in your life? Discuss some of the worries and concerns that your community is dealing with today? What are some practical ways that you can walk confidently in Christ? Ask the Lord to help you find peace and comfort in Him, who is your mighty fortress. Pray for your neighbors, for our city, and for the world. 

 


Communal Prayer


We beg you, O Lord, pour your grace into our hearts, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may be his cross and passion be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.