The prophet Isaiah declared that how we respond to God determines how we experience God. “He will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare” (Isaiah 8:14).
We will either experience God as a sanctuary or a snare, depending on our response to God’s son. God cannot be ignored because he is too big and too powerful. Neither can he be considered irrelevant because if we do, we will stumble over him. Examples abound in the Bible; Adam and Eve ignored God’s commands and were snared by the consequences. Noah accepted God’s commands and built a massive ship by which he and his family were saved, while thousands of others perished from unbelief. Samson was endowed with enormous strength to lead his people but regarded God as irrelevant and was trapped by his enemies.
Jesus said, “He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed” (Matt 21:44). Surrender your will to Christ, and you will find God a refuge, but walk away in defiance, and you will be crushed.
Our acceptance or rejection of Jesus will determine our interaction with God. Isaiah gave us many prophesies about Jesus, his virgin birth, what he would be like, descriptions of his ministry, death and resurrection, and future kingdom. These predictions were given to encourage belief in the truth of God’s Word. All those prophesies that should have been fulfilled have come to pass. The ones that remain unfulfilled are still in the future.
When Jesus began his earthly ministry, he returned to Nazareth, his hometown, where he was raised. He visited the synagogue and asked to read from the scroll of Isaiah. He chose to read from the part of Isaiah’s prophesy that described the ministry of the coming Messiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:17-42).
Then Jesus told the audience that “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21). This puzzled everyone because they knew Jesus. This was the son of Joseph and Mary—the son of a carpenter. What is this he is saying that he is the Messiah that Isaiah has prophesied? Then Jesus confronted the unbelief in their hearts, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum. I tell you the truth,” he continued, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” (Luke 4:22-24).
This so angered the people that they tried to kill him—the very person they knew. They thought Jesus’ claims to be God were preposterous. They attempted to throw him off a cliff, but Jesus escaped. Jesus was a snare to the people of Nazareth because they rejected him.
Nothing has changed. God is still a sanctuary to those who believe and receive him and a snare to those who reject him. He comforts those who take refuge in him and those who ignore him run into him because he is too big and too powerful to be missed. Will Jesus be a sanctuary or a snare to you?