Arc of Septimus Severus, Rome, circa 200 AD
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
2 Corinthians 3:17
Even the most wicked, who dwell amidst sin and iniquity, letting their own self righteous ways guide their path, know that darkness cannot dwell amidst the light without being cast out, without being cut through and dispersed. So they hide themselves in secret places where they hope that they cannot be found or they set themselves above lands where they establish their own dominion, where their word can be the law. In darkness do they keep themselves and in darkness they rule over, seeking, striving, struggling forever to keep the light from shining in.
Though kept in the gloomy shadows of sin and iniquity we know that these places, they exist. In bleak and depressing estate these hidden men and these hidden places exist seeking to set up and preserve their authority over the body and soul, the spirit and the minds of people, as they keep them locked away out of site, hoping to keep a veil over the eyes of the world that they may carry on as they have, destroying lives through their transgressions against their brothers and sisters.
The bitter, brutal captivity that guides their path…
Though locked away we know of it…
We know of it with every story of the girl who goes missing, snatched from the streets, quickly grabbed and ushered away, to be sold as a sex slave. Taken by human traffickers who will drug them and sell them, their flesh treated as meat at a butchers shop, their innocence ripped from them, their lives seeming as if it had ended the moment they are taken.
We know of it with every tale of slavery that we still hear, as men and women are treated as if they are animals, there to build and to work for the glory of others. Beaten and broken they are kept in line with terror and fear as they are used and then cast aside, thrown away when they no longer are able to do the work that their now shattered bodies were once capable of doing.
We know of it with every account of political, ethnic and religious persecution in brutal dictatorships that still occurs as tolerance and acceptance is cast aside for scapegoating, bigotry and hatred. Cast to prisons, left to rot and die, or murdered in grim death camps, the victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing, life is held cheap as they are used, as the victims are used as the political tools of thugs and despots trying to extend and hold on to their power.
We know of it with every report of piracy and terrorism that still makes the news, as men and women are taken and held captive, most just happen ending up being at the wrong place at the wrong time when they are ripped away. Ransomed off for money or murdered to make a political point, their faces burned into our memories as their names become a testimony to the evil that can still be inflicted on the innocent.
Darkness and danger lurk, sometimes even in the places where we least suspect, casting the world to chaos as anguish and sorrow become the pained cries of those who are taken and those who are left behind to wonder if they are ever to see those whom they so love and care for ever again, or if they are lost in a sea of iniquity, left to drown amidst the hatred and bitterness that can so grip the souls of men.
But there is hope, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.”
Our Heavenly Father is a God of Deliverance. Through His Son Christ Jesus the sick were healed from their captivity as He made the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers clean and the dead once more draw breath on this earth. Through that Messiah, that beloved Savior, and the blood that was spilled as He served as the great and encompassing sacrifice for humanity’s dark bondage to the slavery of sin, death and the Devil was drowned, and, as we were ransomed by that mercy shown unto us, captivity was set to flight.
If this conquest of darkness is capable by God, who is the Light, as He cuts through it as if it never was there to begin with then how much more is possible through His holy name? How much more is He capable of doing against princes and principalities and the dark forces of this world? How much more can He do to ensure the freedom and the liberty of His precious and beloved children when the forces of this world mount against them, seeking to bind them through hatred and fear as they seek to grab them and strangle the life from them?
A God of justice and mercy, love and compassion, He shall forever cut through the darkness, setting Himself to work in this world that the slave and the captive, that all those who are held in chains and bondage, kept from our sight in hidden places, are set free that they may once more breath the blessed air of freedom, drawing it once more deep into their lungs. No weapon is able to withstand that promise made by the Lord, no power is able to stand against that assurance, no authority has dominion over it, for it is the cause and the calling of a loving God who never fails or forsakes His children, leaving them like lambs unto the slaughter to be devoured by wolves as if they were nothing more than prey.
Where evil lurks, God is at work, His Spirit shall forever be, proclaiming freedom and liberty, proclaiming the judgments of His hand, declaring His righteousness in all places, through all challenges, granting His peace and His comfort for the cause of His children. After all, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
Take comfort in the blessed assurances of the Lord, our Heavenly Father, and, in faith, believe in the promises He has given unto His people. Though captivity and chaos may be all around us, God is at work, and forever shall be as long as evil forces are on the rise, seeking to overtake and overwhelm His children, putting their lives in jeopardy. He shall not be far off or far distant from them and from their plight and their struggle. He shall never turn His eyes from their anguish or shut His ears from their cries. No, a God who always contends with the cause of His people, He does not and will not just be removed from them, abandoning them in their hour of deepest need. He shall, instead, be a shield unto His people, protecting them each and every step of the way, and, in His time, in His way, according to His word, He shall set them free.
Even as comfort and peace seems fleeting amidst this world and the darkness and captivity that can seem to overwhelm it, we can always take solace in that promise that He has given unto His people, for iniquity and sin shall not have power over man forever and He shall, in His righteousness, show this unto us all.
Lord, grant this faith unto us all.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.