“Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 124:8. 

Many of the Psalms of Ascent included praise to God for delivering them from enemies. Today I visited two places that reminded me of God’s love and grace as two people were surrounded by their enemies.

The first one was Paul in Caesarea by the Sea. Originally built by Herod the Great, the city became the capital of the Roman province of Judea and remained the capital after the Romans expelled the Jews and renamed the province Palestina (after Israel’s worst enemies – it means “land of the Philistines”).

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As I stood in the place where Paul gave his defense, it brought to life just how alone he stood in the judgment hall. And yet Paul boldly preached the Gospel to the pompous crowd.

How?

Because the person he spent time with each day was far more impressive than any of those dignitaries.

He met with a God who flung worlds into existence.

He met with a God who is always holy and never does wrong.

He met with a God who loved Him infinitely despite his own failures.

The only Person whose opinion mattered at all stood right beside him the entire time.

It was only fitting a half-hour later when we saw the rubble of the Roman palace where some of those dignitaries lived. I, on the other hand, am a living stone that remains because of Paul’s faithful testimony.

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The second one was Elijah on the top of Mount Carmel. As we studied in the garden next a monastery dedicated to God’s triumph over the priest’s of Baal in 1 Kings 18, I couldn’t help but notice God’s love in v30-31.

Elijah is outnumbered 450 to 1. And he’s got no help from the people. They’re similar to Paul’s audience. Maybe not as hostile, but on the fence until they see the results.

Yet, after all the failed shenanigans from the priests of Baal, Elijah doesn’t lambaste the people for being double-minded. He doesn’t chastise them for leaving him alone to battle these wicked men.

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“And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me.” – 1 Kings 18:30.

He invites them close enough to the incoming fire which should wipe them out for their idolatry. God says as much when He makes idolatry a capital crime in the law of Moses.

But Elijah knows His God. That while He is holy, He is always looking for a reason to pardon. That God is there already, waiting for His people to draw near so He can consume the innocent sacrifice instead of them.

Kinda like He did for me on the cross.

“As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” – Psalm 125:2. 

I wasn’t at the mountains around Jerusalem today, but neither were the Jews when they sang these two songs. They did so in anticipation of where they were going. To remind them of the faithfulness of their God to protect them.

I’m so glad God gave me these reminders. That His love is unfailing, and He never leaves or forsakes me. Won’t you come near, wherever you are right now, and find the same?

I posted a few video’s earlier on Facebook. You can see them below if you want everything in one place.

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