God Is Our Shelter Reflections on Ezra The book of Ezra recounts the the return of God’s people from exile and the rebuilding of the temple; after decades of captivity, the Lord “moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation” allowing the exiles of Judah to return home—“in order to fulfill the words of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah” (Ezra 1:1; see also Jer 29:10). God fulfilled his promise then, and he continues to fulfill his promises today. I grew up on the west coast of Scotland. As a child, I used to play in an old ruined castle on the shoreline. I would pretend that I was safe as long as I was within the walls of that castle. The center tower of these ancient castles was called the “keep.” It provided shelter and an operating station for defense during a siege. In God’s kingdom, there is also a keep—Christ. Paul put it this way: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor 1:20–22). All of God’s promises find their “Yes” in his son. Not only are God’s past promises fulfilled in Christ, but he also claims us through Christ. Paul uses the imagery of a seal: God stamps us with ownership. Through Christ, he has made an eternal commitment to us. The force of God’s righteousness and mercy is the foundation on which his promises are built. He does not change, and his promises are as dependable as he is. Sometimes we have a hard time resting in God’s promises because so many earthly promises are broken. But while we disappoint others and they disappoint us, God is not like us: “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Num 23:19). We have to separate our human experience from God’s promises that will never be broken. We know that we can trust his promises because of another experience: He has “put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor 1:22). As a child, I believed that if I was within the walls of that ruined castle, I was safe. I know now that those who have made Christ their shelter can say with the psalmist, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’ ” (Psa 91:1–2). Sheila Walsh Originally published in Bible Study Magazine July–Aug ‘11 Biblical references from NIV