“…we who have fled for refuge…” –Hebrews 6:18
Have you ever considered yourself a refugee? If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are a refugee.
13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
If you and I cling to the sacrifice, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the payment for our sin and our assurance of eternal life with him and the Father, then we are both refugees–refugees from the devastation of the enemy of our souls.
Many of those living in our part of the country in South Texas are refugees right now as well. As Hurricane Harvey formed and came closer to the coastline, many fled for refuge to higher, dryer, safer ground. Refugees staying with family and friends until it is safe to return to their homes, if their homes are still there when all is over (for those in the hurricane’s path).
Dear friend, whether you are a refugee of natural disaster, of war, of political persecution, of genocide, of religious persecution, of King Herod, or of slavery to sin, you know what it is like to be a refugee. The image at the beginning of this blog is a special one of the Holy Family: Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus fleeing for refuge to Egypt as the angel instructed Joseph to spare the child’s life from King Herod who sought to kill his rival. It was not yet Jesus’ time to die, but devastatingly it became a slaughter of all the baby boys two years old and younger. Jesus knows what it is to be a refugee. Jesus knows what it is for many innocent ones to die because of hatred and jealousy.
“…where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…” –Hebrews 6:20
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
The beautiful icon of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt for refuge from political and religious persecution was written by Adele Alberg Calhoun, author of Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, co-pastor of Spiritual Formation at Highrock Church in Arlington, MA, and guest faculty for LTI’s Selah program, among many other things. She also happens to be one of my favorite authors. While at my most recent residency this June in NH, Adele shared with me this icon when she learned of the work we do with refugees. She wrote to me regarding her response to this current humanitarian crisis: