Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90.1-2.
When Moses was about to die, he pronounced a blessing on each of the tribes of Israel, and part of the blessing on Asher was: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 3.27). So, perhaps because of the similarity of that thought to the thought expressed in today’s reading, this psalm is described as “A prayer of Moses, the man of God”. And certainly it is helpful to read these opening words of the psalm as being uttered by someone from a nomadic, tent-dwelling people, wandering through the barren and hostile landscape of the Sinai peninsular.
Egypt now lies far behind them and the shacks in which the Hebrews once dwelt by the Nile are now abandoned and empty. The buildings which they will one day inhabit in Canaan are just a promise. And nothing now separates them from the sand and dust and the desert wind and the stars except some goat skins over a crude wooden frame. Home? No, this is not home … but God is. His arms are the strong walls of a dwelling place that is secure and safe and unchanging. A dwelling place in which generation after generation have found refuge. Abraham and Sarah found their home in God. So did Isaac and Rebekah. So too did Jacob and Rachel.
And it is an unchanging home because God is unchanging. He is from everlasting to everlasting — olam to olam in the Hebrew. Olam is the vanishing point — the point beyond which man cannot see when he looks into the past and when he looks into the future. The Message cleverly translates the phrase, “from ‘once upon a time’ to ‘kingdom come'”. Somewhere between the two, the psalmist is saying, this eternal God gave birth to the earth and all that is in it, but he was a home waiting to be dwelt in by his people even before the earth’s nativity, and he will be such a home forever.
So it is that I too can find that same home in God that was found by Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses … and millions more besides. But there is a difference, and it is this. I know the name that is on the door of this “home-sweet-home” whereas Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses didn’t; and the name on the door is Jesus. Jesus is my dwelling place. I have my home in him.
There’s a place for all the children
where Jesus reigns in love,
a place of joy and freedom
that nothing can remove;
a home that is more friendly
than any home we know,
where Jesus makes us welcome
because He loves us so.