The Parable of The Structure in The Field
Imagine a building out in a field. Picture it. Now, picture yourself inside this structure. How do you feel? Trapped, imprisoned, cabin fever? Safe, protected, cozy? A bit of both?
So, we go outside. What is out there:
- Wolves, Lions, Bears, Thirst, Hunger, Quicksand, Plagues
- Scorching Heat, Bitter Cold, Rain, Hail, Nakedness
- Merciless Enemies, Arrows, Traps, Nets, Snares
The field is not a safe place, as we will see.
So we run back into safety as soon as we can. It is not like we cannot go outside, but it is dangerous out there. So then, if/when we do so we should go armed to the teeth. For "out there" is hostile territory; in metaphor it represents sin. David's heart, as we will see momentarily, was not to be outside; but rather to be safely within God's shelter.
Mt 13:38a (NIV) "The field is the world."How many times must we go out before we learn? For we must admit that we have both instincts: we run towards God, but we also look out the windows at the pleasures of sin and want to go out. We are duplicitous in nature. When will we learn? How many times will it take?
Jas 4:4 (NIV) ...Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
The Safe Place
Scripture depicts a spiritual safe-place that we will refer to as Sanctuary. Described in many ways, it is real--not merely a word or description. Denoting protection, coziness, splendor, and companionship; it is variously referred to as:
• Rock • Shield • Refuge • Stronghold • Tower • Fortress • CitadelIn modern times, we might say a force-field. It is a place of protection, of safety. It is also a place of warmth and supply, a place where good things are.
• House • Tent • Shelter • Secret Place • Hiding Place
• Dwelling • Tabernacle • Courts of the Lord • Temple • Under His Wings
As children we hankered towards forts or impenetrable retreats. But all such in the natural are ephemeral. Even the mighty fortress Masada eventually fell. God is what we really are after, our true fortress. He alone can shelter and defend us. God Himself is our sanctuary.
What The Structure is Made Of
The structure is made up of the principles of God. Principles are condensed wisdom, such as "Do not steal" or "Do not bear false witness". Such are given to protect us from others, ourselves, and the life-draining of sin. They are distinct, and form a definite "inside" and "outside". Each block is just one brick in the structure that shelters us.
The principles of God can strike our old carnal nature with a desire to flaunt (Rom 7:8-11) or alternatively to "corban" (Mark 7:11). In the first case, we run outside naked and get razed within an inch of our lives, and come running back into safety... if we by any means can. This is the sin-instinct in us, to go completely around the block or outside of the structure. The second "corban" case is the Pharisaical response: to see how close you can shave by, to change the meaning, to pretend to care about the block while turning its intent on its head. These are those who rub up against the wall and agitate the flesh as a result. Instead of enjoying the protection and safety of the Lord's structure, they get as close as they can to barely adhering legalistically. Both responses are carnal, with the second "religious" response perhaps the worse.
Lam 3:7,9 (NIV) He has walled me in so that I cannot go out... He has blocked my ways with hewn stone.Rather, can we learn to enjoy the sanctuary? Can we joyfully run into it, and be safe?
The blocks of the sanctuary's structure are not arbitrary or random. They flow from the nature (the Name) and love of God towards us. It is not like God said, "Gee, let's make adultery wrong for them to trip them up". No. The law of God is from God's character, and could not be otherwise. His principles flow from His character. Each block of the structure flows from His nature. The building rises up from the floor (low-level commands such as "don't steal") to higher level commands (such as "love the Lord your God") and up--to mix metaphors--into Him... sort of like a robe that surrounds us.
2Cor 5:2 (NIV) Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.
Inside the Sanctuary
The sanctuary is not a physical place, but a spiritual reality. In the physical, one might be in a very uncomfortable place indeed while spiritually in a place of great safety and comfort. Picture Stephen being stoned.
Acts 6:15 (NIV) All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.Picture Daniel in the lion's den (Dan 6:27), or the three Hebrews thrown into the fire (Dan 3:17). They were there.
Where are You?
The first words spoke by God to man after the fall, and the first question asked by God to man:
Gen 3:9b (NIV) "Where are you?"This is an elemental, core question of spiritual life.
David speaks much of this in the Psalms. David was after the sanctuary, which is to say that he was seeking after God.
As we will see, an activity that often comes up in God's sanctuary is rapturous praise and worship. You will know you are there when this bubbles up in your heart.
Ps 40:3 (NIV) He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
John 4:23 (NIV) "...A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."
Psalms on Sanctuary
Ps 84:1-2,4,9-12 (KHP Kent Henry Paraphrase) How amiable, beautiful and pleasing is your sanctuary, O Lord of All! How lovely your dwelling place is, O Yahweh [God's personal name of "I AM" from Ex 3:14] the Lord God of Armies. My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord. I yearn, even pant with longing for the Lord's temple, outside of which I cannot live. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God! At His name my heart, my whole being, thrills with joy... Blessed are they that dwell in your house, continually do they praise you! All who live in your dwelling place are happy indeed, for they can praise you all day long.... Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of your anointed. O God our defender, look upon us, do not disregard us now, and welcome your chosen into your presence. For better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. I'd rather stand at the threshold as a doorkeeper in the of house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For you, Lord, are a sun and a shield... Sun to enlighten, shield to protect us.
Ps 5:11-12 (NIV) ...Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
Ps 9:9 (Jer) May Yahweh be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble!
Ps 16:1,6 (Jer) Protect me, O God, in you is my refuge... The measuring-line marks out for me a delightful place...
Ps 18:1-6,30-31 (Jer) I love you, Yahweh, my strength, my Saviour, you have saved me from violence. Yahweh is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is my God. I take refuge in him, my rock, my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold, my place of refuge. I call to Yahweh who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my foes. With Death's breakers closing in on me, Belial's torrents ready to swallow me, Sheol's snares every side of me, Death's traps lying ahead of me, I called to Yahweh in my anguish, I cried for help to my God; from his Temple he heard my voice, my cry came to his ears. ...For he alone is the shield of all who take refuge in him. For who is God but Yahweh, who is a rock but our God?
Ps 20:1-2 (Jer) May Yahweh answer you in time of trouble, may the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary, give you support from Zion!
Ps 26:6 (Jer) Yahweh, I love the beauty of your house, and the place where your glory dwells.
Ps 27:1-6,14 (Jer) Yahweh is my light and my salvation. Whom should I fear? Yahweh is the fortress of my life, whom should I dread. When the wicked advance against me to eat me up, they, my opponents, my enemies, are the ones who stumble and fall. Though an army pitch camp against me, my heart will not fear, though war break out against me, my trust will never be shaken. One thing I ask of Yahweh, one thing I seek: to dwell in Yahweh's house all the days of my life, to enjoy the sweetness of Yahweh, to seek out his temple. For he hides me away under his roof on the day of evil, he folds me in the recesses of his tent, sets me on a rock. Now my head is held high above the enemies who surround me; in his tent I will offer sacrifices of acclaim. I will sing, I will make music for Yahweh... This I believe: I shall see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living. Put your hope in Yahweh, be strong, let your heart be bold, put your hope in Yahweh.
Ps 31:1-5.19-21 (Jer) In you, Yahweh, I have taken refuge, let me never be put to shame, in your saving justice deliver me, rescue me, turn your ear to me, make haste. Be for me a rock-fastness, a fortified citadel to save me. You are my rock, my rampart; true to your name, lead me and guide me! Draw me out of the net they have spread for me, for you are my refuge; to your hands I commit my spirit, by you have I been redeemed.... Yahweh, what quantities of good things you have in store for those who fear you, and bestow on those who make you their refuge, for all humanity to see. Safe in your presence you hide them, far from human plotting, shielding them in your tent, far from contentious tongues. Blessed be Yahweh who works for me miracles of his faithful love (in a fortified city)!
Ps 32:7 (NIV) You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. selah (Pause and let that soak in.)
Ps 46:1-5, 10-11 (Jer) God is both refuge and strength for us, a help always ready in trouble; so we shall not be afraid... There is a river whose streams bring joy to God's city, it sanctifies the dwelling of the Most High. God is in the city, it cannot fall... Be still and acknowledge that I am God, supreme... over the world. Yahweh Sabaoth [of warriors] is with us, our citadel...
Ps 59:1-3, 8-9, 16-17 (Jer) Rescue me from my enemies, my God, be my stronghold from my assailants, rescue me from evildoers, from men of violence save me. Look at them, lurking to ambush me, violent men are attacking me... For your part, Yahweh, you laugh at them, you make mockery of all nations. My strength, I keep my eyes fixed on you. For my stronghold is God... And so I will sing of your strength, in the morning acclaim your faithful love; you have been a stronghold for me, a refuge when I was in trouble. My strength, I will make music for you, for my stronghold is God, the God who loves me faithfully.
Ps 61:1-4 (Jer) God, hear my cry, listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you with fainting heart. Lead me to the high rock that stands far out of my reach. For you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me stay in your tent for ever, taking refuge in the shelter of your wings!
Ps 63:1-4 (Jer) God, you are my God, I pine for you; my heart thirsts for you, my body longs for you, as a land parched, dreary and waterless. Thus I have gazed on you in the sanctuary, seeing your power and your glory. Better your faithful love than life itself; my lips will praise you. Thus I will bless you all my life, in your name lift up my hands.
Ps 65:4 (Jer) How blessed are those whom you choose and invite to dwell in your courts. We shall be filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.
Ps 71:1-3 (Jer) In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put to shame. In your saving justice rescue me, deliver me, listen to me and save me. Be a sheltering rock for me, always accessible; you have determined to save me, for you are my rock, my fortress.
Ps 71:7 (NAS) I have become a marvel to many, for You are my strong refuge.
Ps 90:1,14-17 (Jer) Lord, you have been our refuge from age to age... Each morning fill us with your faithful love, we shall sing and be happy all our days... Show your servants the deeds you do, let their children enjoy your splendour! May the sweetness of the Lord be upon us.
Ps 91:1-2,8-9 (KHP/DVP) He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. For this is true protection, a secret shelter for those who find their lodging there. He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty--whose power no foe can withstand. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust. Yes, I will say of the Lord, "You are my sheltering haven; my God whom I trust" ...You only have to keep your eyes open to see how the wicked are repaid. So say, "Yahweh my refuge!" and make the Most High your dwelling place.
Ps 119:97,114 (Jer) How I love your Law! I ponder it all day long... You are my refuge and shield, I put my hope in your word.
Ps 144:1-2 (Jer) Blessed by Yahweh, my rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle, my faithful love, my bastion, my citadel, my Saviour; I shelter behind him, my shield...
Ps 150:1 (NIV) ...Praise God in his sanctuary...
God Has Become Our Jesus (Salvation / Yeshua)
2Sam 22:2-3 (Jer) Yahweh is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is my God. I take refuge in him, my rock, my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold, my place of refuge.
Is 12:2,6 (Jer) Look, he is the God of my salvation: I shall have faith and not be afraid, for Yahweh is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation... Cry and shout for joy... for the Holy One of Israel is among you in his greatness.
Acts 4:11-12 (NIV) "He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Ps 18:10 (Jer) The name of Yahweh is a strong tower; the upright runs to it and is secure.
Seek Out and Find the Sanctuary
Jer 29:13 (NIV) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Deut 4:29 (NIV) But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Is 55:6-7 (NIV) Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Jer 29:14 (NIV) "I will be found by you," declares the Lord.
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