Friday, October 16, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 10/16/09

The Israel Stele, 19th Dynasty Egypt

1 The fool says in his heart,
"There is no God."
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
there is no one who does good.
2 God looks down from heaven
on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 Everyone has turned away,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
4 Will the evildoers never learn—
those who devour my people as men eat bread
and who do not call on God?
5 There they were, overwhelmed with dread,
where there was nothing to dread.
God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
you put them to shame, for God despised them.
6 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When God restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
Psalm 53

Throughout their history, throughout their existence and their time, there is very little that the children knew beside from captivity. There were moments of peace and comfort, there were moments of joy and happiness, of freedom and liberty as they lived their lives, and yet it was only a matter of time before some warring tribe, some foreign enemy came upon them to kidnap their people and to make them slaves. We read the story of Abraham having to go and rescue Lot, or we read the story of Joseph being cast into the pit and sold as a slave. The children of Israel, slaves in Goshen, in Egyptian territory, as the Egyptian taskmasters whipped them and held mercilessly. Tale after tale, story after story.

David, even David, sitting on the throne of Israel, the mighty, he knew it, for he was the hero of the Israelites, he was the hero of his people, whom God had chosen to deliver the people from another potential captivity as the Philistines had stood before the armies of Saul, threatening to make slaves of them under the command of their champion, Goliath. And yet by the hand of the Lord, by the might of the Lord, they were delivered from that potential captivity, they were delivered from that potential slavery, just as God had delivered them each and every step of the way throughout their history, from Abraham rescuing Lot to Moses delivering the Israelites out of the hands of the Egyptians. Each and every step of the way, He was there for them, He was in their lives, so that evil would not befall them, so that those who say that there is no God, those who dwell in their own unrighteousness, those who would abandon God and His path, those who would abandon the Lord and His divine righteousness and His gracious precepts, would not be able to triumph over them or to stand over them, to tear them apart, to rip them apart. And what a wonderful blessing, what a blessed comfort that had to be to them as they knew so much pain and suffering, so much agony and anguish in their lives.

Just as the Lord our God protected the children of Israel in those trying times of trial and tribulation, of suffering and pain, so too now does He walk beside His children, so too does He stand with His children even as they find themselves in the most brutal of captivities, the most bitter of estates, as they find that hardship is all around them and struggle is before them. For the Lord does not allow captivity to stand. He is the spirit of liberty, He is the spirit of freedom, who works with a divine sense of justice against unrighteousness, against wickedness, against iniquity, against hatred and fear and loathing, against that slavery that would bind the hearts and the souls, the spirits and the bodies of men. God does not let it stand for all ages, in all ages, through all time. Instead, what He does do is show that He is at work, weaving together the rescue of His people as He finds them in the dark, hidden places, as He finds them in places of captivity where they are held, where they are so persecuted, where they are shown nothing but brutality, but He draws them closer, showing that His love and His mercy, His compassion and His grace transcends the ages and transcends time itself in all places and through places, according to His love and mercy.

And what a blessed assurance that truly is, not just for the people who are held by pirates and by terrorists, by tyrants and dictators, but for each and every one of us, for you see, Satan tries to work his captivity over each and every person, to inflict them in the most harsh of ways, in the basest of deceptions and the basest of evil and wickedness. He tries to work his captivity in us so that he can destroy each and every one of us, yet the ultimate destruction goes to him and to those who do his bidding in this world, those who work his will in this world even if they don’t recognize it at the time they are doing it. For you see, we have a faithful assurance, a blessed promise that comes through the word of the Lord: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Through Jesus Christ our Savior, captivity was taken captive and we were all ransomed by the glorious and wondrous power of the Cross.

There is no captivity, no deception, no situation that God cannot rescue His people from, if we just put our hope and our reliance on Him, knowing that He is working His will and His way, that He is delivering us from evil, just as He promised unto us that He would, even from the earliest of days. Place your hope and your trust in those promises, in those assurances, that great and encompassing love and know that you will never be disappointed, for as He was with David, as He was with Moses, so too shall He be with you all the days of your life, never failing you or forsaking you, letting no man, no evil stand against you all the days of your life.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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