“Shelter: to protect or shield from something harmful” (Oxford Dictionary)
Never has the term, ‘shelter’ been used as commonly as we’ve seen recently with the onset of COVID-19. For weeks we have been asked, even ordered in some areas, by our local governments to “shelter in place.” These three words simply mean we must remain in a protected area until we’ve been given the ‘all clear’ signal.
Before the creation of this world, God and his son, Jesus Christ, provided the shelter humanity needed to live on this evil planet called earth. We know that this shelter or protection, also known as the plan of salvation, was conceived by God, not after the first sin, as so many believe, but prior to even Creation. According to Paul in Ephesians 3:8-13, he writes, ‘’I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eph 3:8-13 NLT.
The Shelter of Salvation
The mystery referenced in this text is the gospel or the plan of salvation. Salvation, at one time, was hidden in God, but now it is openly presented as our shelter in a time of storm. Yes, even before our current time of the Covid-19 virus and the violence of white supremacy, our lives were in danger. Essentially, Satan hates God and anyone who sincerely works to serve God. It is his plan to misrepresent their character at all cost. But not only does Satan desire to misrepresent the character of God, He also desires to steal, kill, and destroy humanity, according to the Gospel of John. I Peter 5:8 speaks of this danger admonishing us to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Ephesians 6:12 also warns us of the need to take shelter in Jesus against the devil: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” This storm sin and all the ways it manifests itself truly requires that we shelter, not in ‘place’ but in God. There is no other way to avoid Satan’s plan for our eternal death.
The Shelter of God’s Grace
As noted in John 3:16, God desires that all be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Our God, who made plans to shelter us long before we were born, has no intention of allowing his enemy to snatch us away as is evident in Zechariah 3:2 and Revelation 12:5. And so available to us is a number of recommendations in the Bible on how to remain protected or sheltered in Him. I encourage you to reflect on texts like: Exodus 20:3-17, James 4:7, Ephesians 6:10-20, Deuteronomy 8:3, Acts 16:31, and Ecclesiastes 12:13.
The Shelter of God’s Sanctuary
This means that God will bring us through all of Satan’s sicknesses and diseases, as well as shelter us from Satan’s eternal death (Deuteronomy 7:15, Exodus 15:26, Isaiah 40:31, Psalms 41:3). Furthermore, God promises that if we follow His life principles and claim His Biblical promises, He is able to keep us from falling away from the truth and will bring us with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault (Jude 24). This promise of humanity standing before God’s presence through Christ’s cloak of righteousness is the epitome of the plan of Salvation and the truest essence of sheltering. God, let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe underneath the shelter of your wings (Joel 3:16 NIV).
Let us all remain sheltered beneath His wings until we get the ‘all clear’ signal waiting for that glorious day recorded in I Thessalonians 4:16 where the author writes, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…”