Giambattista Pittoni, 1740
“Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”
Psalm 68:18 and 19
The greatest of challenges, the most enduring of struggles to so imprison humanity… the deep yearning and the painful longing that it brings as it steals our peace, breaks our hearts and crushes our souls.
How do we even begin to battle back against it? How do we stand against the test of time and the battles of the heart that so seek to destroy us? That so seek to break us in the most significant of ways.
The oldest bondage to ensnare and enslave the hearts and the souls, the bodies and the minds of men wasn’t the Egyptian or the Babylonian Captivity, nor did it distinguish between Jew or Gentile, it had no consideration for any of the social, economic or cultural distinctions we have come to know within our lives. No, it knew none of it. Though it may be of the flesh, it is not a captivity ruled or governed over by men.
Since our first disobedience at Eden, each of us… we have been enslaved by the power of sin, death and the Devil. Corrupted in our nature, weakened in our resolve, we fall into its traps so easily, finding ourselves entangled in its web.
Yet, through the love of God, through His divine mercy and His gifts of grace, we know that this isn’t the end, it’s simply the beginning. Even since that fall, we would be handed the promise of a Messiah, of a Savior, given unto us to deliver us from the power that sin has over us. In the words of the Psalmist, he would come to lead captivity captive… to free us from that slavery.
Through Christ Jesus, we have come to see the fulfillment of that promise that the Lord God would give even unto Adam and Eve as they were dispelled from Paradise for their iniquities. Through that Son of God we, a race of enslaved captives, bound to death and the grave, are set free.
Consider that for a moment… “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). He loves us and He cares for us so much that He is willing, in order to free us from the dark bondage to the Devil, to offer, as a perfect sacrifice, His son.
Through Him, in Him, we are more than conquerors, (Romans 8:37) for we, through His abiding compassion and wondrous love, know that we have the power to triumph, regardless of what the world may seek to capture us with, regardless of what the old Adversary may use to so ensnare us with. After all, His blessed name is Immanuel, and if God is truly with us, then who or what can stand against us? What then can separate us from the love of Christ in our lives as our Savior intercedes for us in mercy through grace?
If that is the compassion He shows us, if that’s the mercy He has for us, that He would conquer the pits of Hell for us and our salvation, should we not then trust Him to free the captives who are taken by this world? To look to Him for guidance and to trust that He will lead the way for us?
Of course it does not mean we should not take action, but it does mean that we should be resolved to know that, through it all, God is at work, He is present, His hand guiding, preserving and protecting to ensure the safety of His children. Trust in Him, knowing that even though we see hurt and hardship, even though it may seem overwhelming at times. He is present and at work showing His love for us through all the days of our lives.
After all, what then do we have to fear? For through God we have the wondrous and glorious love of our Savior. There is then no captivity, no bondage that can rip us away from Christ’s ransoming us. If this is His power against the spiritual forces, then what do we have to fear against powers and principalities, for He abides with us through the power of the Spirit to always set us free. What a wondrous miracle that truly is.
Heavenly Father, guide us by Your wisdom, by Your hand that we may learn to trust You, that we may learn to place our hope and our confidence in You. Hear our humble supplications for those taken captive, those who are held in slavery, hear the cries of those in bondage, and strengthen and preserve them in Your faith according to Your will. Show them Your transcending mercy O Lord, and comfort them in Your Holy Spirit according to Your compassion and love for Your children.
In the name of our precious Savior Christ Jesus, who ransomed the captives, freeing us from our slavery to sin, and who lives and reigns with You in the Kingdom, forever seated at Your right hand of glory, Amen.