Psalm 91 is one of those striking psalms, picturesque, and easy to remember (especially in the old King James). What hits me about the promise here is how we’re simply to live (other versions) or dwell in the shelter of God. And in so doing find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Yesterday I was in the yard sawing and cutting off some branches and limbs of the two trees we planted in our front yard. It was a hot day, high noon. And while enjoying the sun, which is not a given where we live (we have many cloudy days), I certainly appreciated the shade. Certainly for relief, as well as protection from its damaging rays.
Here we have God’s promise of his presence to protect us as a shadow. In other words, God being near. Our responsibility is simply to dwell in that shelter, and so find rest.
One of my favorite memories of the past was visiting and spending a weekend at Saint Augustine’s House, a monastery. It is symbolic of God’s house where God is especially resident through the symbols in place, which depict realities. And actually God is present wherever his people are. Wherever two or more are gathered in his name. We are God’s temple, both individually, and together.
But the key for us is to live out what we are. And that begins by simply living or dwelling consciously, or deliberately in that existence. In faith, simply trusting in God. At home in and through Jesus.
Psalm 73 is a most interesting mix between closeness to God and complete inward desolation in which one feels not only poor and troubled, but left behind by God. It is typical of many of the psalms which go in and out between complaint and praise.
The sanctuary of God is the key and transition between darkness and light in this psalm. We are often so acclimated to darkness that we actually somehow find some sort of comfort and relief apart from God. It usually and perhaps always for us will be in things which are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. But the sanctuary of God is different. Into that place we take nothing except ourselves in all our brokenness and nakedness before God. We have essentially tuned out other things, and are tuned in to one thing only: the things of God, and more than that, God himself.
Again, other things might have their place, but if we have been in a season akin to “the dark night of the soul,” in which all is difficult, including the sense we can make out of life, all might seem empty, then perhaps that is preparation for entering into God’s sanctuary where we might find the peace and rest, even the very presence of God.
We need that sanctuary, I’m sure again and again, but it’s a reminder that God’s presence actually fills all things, even the very thing which troubles us and threatens to bring us down. But we can only come to realize that through entering the sanctuary, God’s holy place, and remaining there for a time, in and through Jesus.
There is nothing more divisive among American evangelicals than suggesting that Genesis 1 is not scientific in the sense of telling us how God created the heavens and the earth and all things, but rather doing so in terms of purpose and order, especially in the sense of how it fits together and why in theological terms. Science can never answer such questions, but is confined to the what and how in terms of the material (matter). Science observes by hypothesis, testing, and ongoing hypothesis and testing beyond that, within the scientific community in terms of peer review. Theology and particularly that in Genesis is taken up with an entirely different matter.
This is why neither evolution nor creation science (or “intelligent design,” even though there most certainly is such in creation) won’t win any debate. One side or the other may win a debate, but neither touches what actually is going on in the biblical text. The one is not true to the biblical text, and the other is not disproving the biblical text. Because the text of Genesis must be read in its historical context to see what is going on. To the original readers the Genesis account is a breathtaking view of the majesty of God and creation in terms of a temple narrative. We can read it simply, and we need to take what we read literally, but literally in terms of what it actually is, not at all in terms of what we impose on it with our understanding of science, etc.
The video can give us more of a sense of what is actually happening in this wonderful poetical account of creation.
God is building a house in which he can dwell. Jesus’ temple work, in which he played both the role of priest and lamb, represents a further improvisation in God’s building project. The “house” or temple in which God now dwells in order to be with his people is no longer a physical but a social structure: the people of God, of which Christ Jesus is the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20-21). The Spirit is involved in this divine building project too (Eph. 2:22). The same Spirit who hovered over the waters and who descends on Jesus also descends on the people of God. The creative Spirit, the Spirit of life, unites us with the source of life (God the Father) and forms the life of Christ (God the Son) in us. The church is a spiritual house, where being “spiritual” is a matter of having one’s word and actions prompted by the Holy Spirit and conformed to the cruciform image of Christ.