Yesterday while at the church building I was standing in the back of the auditorium talking with my brother-in-law, Ralph. I was standing behind him, next to the wall. Melody, my wife, finally came up and said, “I’ve been looking for you, but didn’t see you.” Ralph replied, “I was hiding him.” It was a simple little encounter, but one that illustrates an important concept in our lives.
One of our oldest hymns is, “Rock of Ages”. The composer, Augustus Toplady, was born in England in 1740 and wrote the hymn in 1775. It has been made famous through the years as a church hymn and has been used in motion pictures, television programs and even as a Broadway play. So to say the least it is one of the best known hymns, even among those who are not religious.
Let me remind you of some of the words of this important hymn:
“Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water and the blood. From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from it’s guilt and pow’r.
Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law’s commands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; Vile, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”
The idea of being hidden in the cleft of the rock was not just Toplady’s idea, it actually comes from Scripture. When Moses went up on the mountain in Exodus 33 to speak with God, He would not allow Moses to look directly at him and tells him that no one has looked him in the face and lived to tell about it. In verse 22, God says, “And it will be, while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.”
In Psalms 27:4-5 David wrote these words about being hidden by God “One thing I have desired from Jehovah, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to pray in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His shelter, in the secrecy of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me up on a rock.”
At some point all of us need to be hidden don’t we, we need to feel protected and cared for and who better to do that than our God? What’s more important is that he promises us life eternal so we sing with meaning, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.”