Hidden in Christ
"Come, my people, enter into your rooms, and close your doors behind you; hide for a little while, until indignation runs its course. For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; and the earth will reveal her bloodshed, and will no longer cover her slain." (Isaiah 26:20-21)
"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col 3: 2-3)
In the passage before us, the prophet Isaiah speaks metaphorically of Jehovah under the image of a great and powerful dignitary who has tolerated for long enough the continued opposition against his rule and authority. His advisors and courtiers have brought report after report of widespread opposition to his reign. Willing to initially overlook the rebellion in his kingdom by a few subjects, at last the evil has grown to such an extent that he must now act. He rises up out of his throne, dons his military apparel, and then comes forth with a determined purpose to put an end to these uprisings and inflict punishment upon all those who have transgressed against his laws and defied his authority. Yet, in the process of so doing, he is not unmindful of his faithful subjects. Lest they should be unnecessarily exposed to his wrath, he sends them a message advising them to stay hidden within their homes and places of shelter lest they should be swept away by the fierceness of his onslaught.
What graphic imagery is this! How it would indeed stir the spirits of the faithful remnant within Israel! No doubt it would conjure up in their minds the story which had been passed down from generation to generation of that great night so many years ago in which the Lord Jehovah had gone forth in Egypt slaying all the firstborn of that land. That night, the Israelites had taken shelter in their homes protected by the blood of the slain Passover lamb that had been applied to the thresholds of their doors. As the great God of heaven had gone forth in wrath against the oppressors of His people, they had been hidden safely from His avenging fury. While this horrific destruction from the Almighty had filled the air with the cries and shrieks of the terror-struck Egyptians, the people of God were partaking of the bitter herbs and unleavened bread of the first Passover in complete security.
Isaiah, in employing this imagery, is seeking to console the faithful remnant among the Jews who had been taken into captivity in the land of Babylon. In effect, he is attempting to put them in remembrance of their former deliverance from their great oppressor, Egypt. Just as the might of Egypt was no match for the power of Jehovah, so too the mighty empire of Babylon will not be able to shield itself against the wrath of God as He goes forth to avenge His servants and effect their deliverance. They were not to pine away in despair at the might and splendor of the seemingly invincible juggernaut that held them as slaves and vassals. The Lord of hosts could crush it as easily as He had the land of the Pharaohs. In the process of so doing, He would know those who were His and would protect them from the coming storm of judgment.
While Isaiah’s prophecy did indeed receive a preliminary fulfillment in Israel’s deliverance from the land of Babylon, the events spoken of in this entire chapter are far more glorious than any mere earthly deliverance. The prophecy can be speaking of none else but the age of the gospel and the deliverance spoken of here can be none other than that of the deliverance from sin, death, and the power and kingdom of Satan. As Paul the apostle said in his defense before the Jewish king Agrippa:
"to open their eyes so they might turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they might receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me". (Acts 26:18).
It is by the power of the gospel that God effects the deliverance of His elect people from their captivity to sin and Satan. As Paul says again in his letter to the Colossians:
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son" (Col 1:13).
Understand something Christian, the picture that the Scriptures portray of the church is a group of redeemed people who have been delivered out of a cruel bondage to sin and Satan and death. Hostile enemies surround them on all sides. They are a "holy nation" (1Peter 2: 9), composed of "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). As such, their "citizenship is in heaven" (Phil 3:20) and they are those to whom "the world has been crucified and they to the world" (Gal 6:14). They speak a different language than their earthly counterparts, for they "speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of Thy power" (Psalm 145:11). As such, they are the objects of Satan’s hatred who hates and despises their presence in the midst of his kingdom.
"And the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (Rev 12:17).
This is the source, the fountainhead, from which has flown all the hostility that has been directed at the church of Christ since its earthly inception. It is this enmity which has been the cause of all the martyr’s blood that has been poured out upon the earth. It is this hostility which elicits the cries of the souls seen by John the Revelator as he beholds the fifth seal broken in the book of Revelation.
"And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of their testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also." (Rev 6: 9-11).
Now, is our God unmindful of His beloved people? Is He deaf to their cries of distress? Of course not! Our Lord Jesus Himself has said, "He will avenge them speedily." (Luke 18: 8). In much the same manner as "He stood up" to repay the ancient empire of Babylon for its hostility and cruel treatment of Israel, so too will He one day rise up and repay all those who oppress His beloved church.
"And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hidthemselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?" (Rev 6:12-17).
Dear friends, a day is coming in which the Lord Christ will rise up and go forth to repay all those who hate Him to their face (Deut 7:10) and all those who have dared to touch the apple of His eye, His beloved church. In that day, men will desperately seek a hiding place to protect them from the wrath of the Almighty. They will cry out to the inanimate rocks to bury them rather than to face the fierce onslaught of the righteous Judge of all the earth. Alas, it will all be to no avail. Not one of them will be able to escape the fury of Jehovah as He rises up and goes forth to crush His enemies and deliver His people from their oppressors.
There will be one place and one place only where there is safety from this storm; one place where one may safely hide. As Paul told us so long ago:
"For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col 3:3).
Christ Jesus alone is the ark of God’s own providing. Only in Him may one safely ride out the storm of the impending flood of God’s wrath. He is the city of refuge where one may dwell in complete safety from the avenger. To quote from Isaiah once again:
"For Thou hast been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat." (Isaiah 25: 4).
Dear child of God, you need not fear the terrifying blows of the Judge of the whole earth. He has provided a place of safety for you, a shelter from the tempest. You may hide yourself there in complete and absolute certainty that:
"Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him" (Romans 5:9).
How the knowledge of this should comfort our hearts and serve to stop the voice of the evil one as he attempts to fill us with fears and doubts! How it should cause us to lift our voices in gratitude and praise towards the One who has granted us such a marvelous provision! How it should serve to stir us to live godly and righteously and press onward for the upward call of God in Christ! Men may mock us, belittle us, persecute us, and hurl all manner of insults against us and accuse us of being nothing more than gullible religious fools and dolts. One day they will see their folly and then realize the inestimable value of the Hiding Place whom they once scorned. They will then curse the day in which they were born while the saints of God whom they despised shall inherit the earth.
Rejoice, child of God! You are safe in Christ! "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us".
Yours in Christ Jesus,
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