God, Our Shield

"Are you on the Lord's side?" I asked of a man, to whom I was introduced.

"Yes," he replied, "by the grace of God I am; and better still, He is on my side."

His answer was good, for it proved that he knew the gospel of God's grace as it is unfolded for us in the Epistle to the Romans, where we read, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31).

But there are many who have trusted the Saviour, who dared not have given such an answer; they would deem it presumption to say that God was on their side, such sinful, faithless creatures as they are; yet though they have not believed it, it is the truth and God would have their hearts established in it.

Let them consider His words to Abraham, "Fear not, Abram; I am thy Shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Gen. 15:1). What a glorious statement for a man to hear from the mouth of God! Abram did not question nor doubt the Word of God; for we read in the same chapter, "And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (v. 6). How safe he must have felt with God as his shield, he would fear neither man nor devil with those words in his heart.

God as the shield of those who believe is strikingly set forth in the case of the passover in Egypt. Abram's children had multiplied exceedingly and had become a great nation, but they were slaves, groaning under hard and cruel masters. God looked upon their sorrows and undertook to deliver them and make them a free people to serve Him with gladness. But His holy character demanded that this should be done on a righteous basis, otherwise it could not be done at all.

The sprinkled blood of the paschal lamb provided this basis. It spoke of the life of a sinless victim being surrendered and sacrificed on behalf of those who had sinned, and who, because sinners, were under the judgment of God. It was a type of the blood of the Lamb of God which was shed for our redemption.

The word of the Lord came to Moses: "Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin; and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians: and when He sees the blood upon the lintel and on the two side posts; the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you" (Ex. 12:21-23).

The words, "the Lord will pass over" you are significant and comforting. They do not mean that He would pass by the door where the blood was, but that He would halt before it, and cover all within it from all judgment and harm. The use of the word here translated "pass over" in other Old Testament scriptures will prove this. In 1 Kings 18:21, it is given as "halt," the sense, as the context shows being to stand still or hover. A remarkable instance of the use of the word is found in Isaiah 31:5, "As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem, defending also He will deliver it; and passing over He will preserve it."

How striking is the figure! With all the tender solicitude of the mother bird for her brood when danger threatens, so the Lord hovers over them that are His. This is the meaning of "pass over." The Lord Almighty stood as sentinel and shield outside the doors that were blood-marked, and did not suffer the destroyer to enter in.

And God's passover in Egypt is the type of the way He deals with every soul, that obeying the gospel, flies to the precious blood of Jesus for shelter. That blood bears witness to the fact that righteous judgment has been executed, and the righteousness that inflicted the judgment must now protect those on whose behalf that judgment was borne.

We are sure that His mercy and grace and love are on our side, but His justice and His righteousness are equally so, since Jesus died. He is a just God and yet a Saviour. He is just, and the justifier of Him that believes in Jesus. The knowledge of this fills the heart with peace and the mouth with praise and we can take up the glorious boast, "If God be for us, who can be against us? … It is God that justifies, who is he that condemns?"