When the Israelites cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer, who delivered them. Judges 3:9
Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Revelation 1:5-6
Imagine being one of the fifty-two American diplomats and citizens being held hostage in Iran from November 1979 to January 1981. For 444 days a group of Iranian college students kept them prisoners in the American Embassy. The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became the face of evil for many Americans, and a symbol of our impotence to gain our own people’s release. Eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian were killed in a failed attempt to rescue the hostages. The movie Argo portrays the successful effort to gain the freedom of six American diplomats who had managed to evade capture.
I’m not particularly aware of a need for deliverance – certainly not as urgent of a need as those Iranian hostages. I live a mostly-comfortable life. I have no debilitating problems that have me unable to function. Sometimes I even feel as though I’m nearly thriving. Nearly.
Although my need may not be pressingly obvious, it is no less real. A lack of urgency does not mitigate our true need for deliverance. We are hostage to our sin, to death, and – without God’s help – to the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. We need a deliverer.
Sometimes the need is obvious. We’re facing a life-and-death battle with a fatal illness: we need a deliverer. We are stuck in a debilitating addiction: we need a deliverer. We are plagued with a guilty conscience – for good or bad reason: we need a deliverer. We are enslaved to things or people more powerful than we are: we need a deliverer.
This was Israel’s situation. They needed a deliverer. And God showed up. Through Moses he delivered the people of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians. The city of Jerusalem lay in ruins, the walls torn down. God showed up. He sent Nehemiah to rebuild the walls and gather the people back to Jerusalem. David, Ezra, Daniel, Elijah: All these were deliverers. They were God’s instruments to bring freedom and deliverance from evil.
Through the prophet Isaiah, he announced a coming deliverer who would bear our sins and carry our sorrows (Isaiah 53). Jesus is the fulfillment of all those Old Testament deliverers and the One who alone has redeemed us and delivered us from the gravest evil. Sin and Satan has been defeated. We’ve been set free from our sins.
We were once hostage to sin and death, satan and hell. But we’ve been exfiltrated: Delivered. For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!”