The whole concept of ‘Personal Truth’ has become popular in recent years. That’s the idea – the conceit – that you can believe one thing, and I can believe another contradictory thing, and we can both be right. What is true for you is not necessarily true for me, and that’s alright. It doesn’t matter.
So you could believe the earth is round and I could believe it’s flat, and – as nonsensical as this sounds – that’s alright too. For there is no such thing as ‘Objective Truth’ anymore.
But truth matters, it really does. What we believe matters according to the Bible. For what we believe informs and shapes and controls our actions.
Mike took us back to Ps 46 on Sunday to look a bit more at how God is our Fortress. Given the snap decision by our state government to implement another COVID lockdown, it’s timely to be reminded that we shouldn’t put our confidence in anything of the world.
People had made plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day with loved ones, or booked weekends away, all to no avail. For the world continues to be uncertain, and we can’t be sure of anything even beyond the next hour, let alone next week or next month.
The Psalmists, the Sons of Korah, remind us that – in God – we have a fortress that is a place of refuge and defence. But He is not only a place to hide and shelter from chaos or attack. He goes on the attack also.
When was the last time you picked a lettuce off your orange tree? Or a cucumber? Or anything else besides an orange? I suspect it’s been a long, long time.
Why? Because, in spite of all the genetic tinkering done by scientists, an orange tree still only produces oranges. And aren’t you glad about that? Aren’t you glad that you can count on getting oranges from that tree?
And do you remember the joy of plucking that first sweet, juicy orange for the season off the tree? What a delight! And did you notice that there wasn’t just one lone solitary orange on the tree. There were dozens, hundreds of them – some riper than others, but all of them getting closer to being ready to pick by the day. That first one is what the Bible would call ‘firstfruits.’ And the firstfruits of any crop, even any animal, was cause for celebration – for a number of reasons.
No doubt, it is difficult for us to imagine what life was like in ancient times – especially from the comfort of stable and prosperous Australia.
We give little thought to safety for the most part. We might be careful to lock our doors or not walk down certain streets alone after dark. But we don’t give a moment’s thought to the safety of the city as a whole.
And neither should we need to. The prospect that a hostile force would invade Melbourne and carry us off into captivity is so minuscule that we needn’t waste mental energy worrying about it.
Not so in days gone by, though. The city – small as it may have been compared to modern cities – was the place of refuge, safety, security. And that safety was provided firstly by a thick and high wall that surrounded the city, creating a virtually impregnable fortress for the citizens within.
The walls of Jericho were thick enough to have houses built into them, such as the one Rahab lived in [see Josh 2:15]. Archaeologists have found ancient cities with perimeter walls 20m thick. You don’t breach that in a hurry id you are an invading army.
With a secure water and food supply, a city could withstand attack for years. Some have held up for multiple years before being finally overrun – 22 years, in one instance.
Of course, the protection of thick walls was not the only benefit of city living in ancient days…