“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.”
Our God is so surprising. If He didn’t reveal His nature and character to us, His plans and purposes and the way in which He has chosen to govern and redeem man, we never would have figured these things out. The way in which our God has disclosed Himself in today’s verse passage is a good example. It is both strange and wonderful that the God of glory (Psalm 29:3), the High and Lofty One, the King of eternity, whose name is Holy (Isaiah 57:15), Whom heaven itself cannot contain (2 Chronicles 6:18), would reveal Himself to His people as “a little sanctuary.” In the immediate context, the prophet is speaking to the Israelites locked in exile in Babylon, hundreds of miles from the city where God promised to place His name (1 Kings 11:36; 21:4, 7; 2 Chronicles 6:6). That was the place where the Temple of God stood, where the presence of the LORD was manifested in a unique and spectacular way (2 Chronicles 7, et al). This was the divinely-ordained meeting place between God and man, where man’s sins found atonement. Now that God’s people had been dragged away in exile to Babylon, there was a real question about their relationship with God. Without access to the Temple and without priestly service, how could that relationship be maintained? Israel was caused to wonder about these things. “Will the Lord cast off for ever?” cried the psalmist, “and will he be favorable no more? Is His mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah” (Psalm 77:7-9). There will be times in all of our lives when we too will face hard things and begin to wonder about God’s plans and purposes for us. “Is His mercy clean gone for ever?” we might ask. Today’s verse passage is an encouraging reminder that God does not forget His people. He is not merely aware of our difficult circumstances, He promises to be with us in them as well. The remarkable account of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and their miraculous deliverance from what appeared to be certain death, is a perfect illustration of this. Cast into a furnace of fire for their refusal to compromise their religious convictions and faithfulness to the God of Israel, they found themselves not only unhurt by the flames, but joined by a divine protector whose appearance was like the Son of God (Daniel 3:23-25). The reference in today’s passage to God being “a little sanctuary” for us is particularly precious. It reminds me that our personal relationship with God is our own. There are times when our sanctuary is only large enough for God and ourselves. It is there that we are invited to share with God our gratitude as well as our deepest cares and concerns, knowing for certain that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
God bless you, dear saints,