Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Our God’s unique reliability is found in those terms “eternal” and “everlasting.” Two different words are used in the Hebrew, each with its own emphasis. The first one looks deep into the past. The eternal God is the God who existed before all things. He goes back before sin entered the world, before there even was a world, before there was even such a thing as time. He has always existed. And the steady march of time since the beginning has not weakened or changed him. He has been constant, dependable, faithful, tried and true.
It is this eternal God whom Moses says is our “refuge.” We have his protection in the fights we face. Now, when you hear the word “refuge,” do you think of something temporary? When I hear “refuge” I tend to think of a place to which to run when there is trouble. I picture thick, gray, cold stone walls. It is unusually strong, well-fortified, maybe hard to access, and since the emphasis is on protection rather than comfort it is somewhat austere. It’s not the kind of place one would live on a full time basis.
That’s not the kind of refuge Moses is holding before us here. This is a place to call home. It offers all of the security and protection mentioned above, but it also has the warmth and permanency of the place you call home. This is the kind of refuge that the eternal God is for you and me. For thousands of years he has been this rock solid yet comfortable place in which his people could live all their days.
The other word which highlights our God’s reliability, “everlasting,” doesn’t look back but ahead. He is literally ever-lasting, he lasts forever, he goes on and on into eternity. His power, his love, his faithfulness, his very being, will never end.
The picture of God that Moses associates with “everlasting” are his everlasting arms beneath us. Do you know what that promises us? It doesn’t say that we will never have troubles. God will allow a certain number of things to test your faith. He will permit you to struggle with other people, perhaps struggle to make a living, or struggle with temptation.
But you will never be alone in those struggles and challenges. If you stumble, falter, or fall, he is not going to let you fall to your doom. His everlasting arms will always be under you.
I remember following my children around when they were just taking their first steps. There my wife or I were with hands and arms right underneath their bottom sides, ready to catch them when they took their first misstep. God’s own everlasting arms are always present underneath his wobbly-kneed, unsteady children, ready to catch them and hold them if ever they slip or fall along the way. He never fails. You can count on it.
Doesn’t that offer us courage for the challenges we face? Our souls are safe when we make our home with him. A look back at God’s perfect track record assures us that victory is always on his side. He will not let us be pushed down and trampled to death in the battles and fights that lie ahead. His arms will always be beneath us to catch us and prevent us from splattering ourselves on life’s jagged rocks. His reliability never fails.