People have long cherished the goal of an ultimate sanctuary, providing protection from whatsoever danger threatened. As the material world is increasingly seen to afford no such safety, people may come to understand more clearly that only God can meet the human need. But even when people have reached out to find refuge in a holy place, the human mind, incapable of appreciating the all-presence of God, has most often conjoined that protection to a physical structure, such as a church building or temple. In the Middle Ages, for example, one who reached the sanctuary of a church was deemed safe from his pursuers as long as he stayed inside.

Many centuries earlier the children of Israel, in their long and hazardous journey from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land, were comforted by a hymn of gratitude to God for their safe passage of the Red Sea. Some verses from this song, attributed to Moses, proclaim: "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established." Ex. 15:17. From this devout tribute it can be seen that the inspired Psalmist must have glimpsed the concept of sanctuary as not just a temporary refuge but a permanent, God-created, spiritual dwelling place.

Dragon slaying
May 27, 1985

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