Advent Reader -- Day 7
Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of the enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. (Judges 2:18) ----------
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior.... I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. The earth quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (2 Samuel 22:2-4, 7-10)
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. (Psalm 34:17-19)
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)
God has a plan all along to save his people and deliver them from their sins. The judges first modeled the role of deliverer, but their ministry was always temporary. Judges had no long-term ability to deliver the people from their enemies in a final sense. They couldn't save people from sinning; they couldn't even keep from sinning themselves.
But Jesus could.
And the name Mary and Joseph gave their son, our sinless savior, tells the whole story. Jesus, in Hebrew, means "Yahweh saves." There could be no clearer message. God is a saving God.
The problem the people in Jesus' time had in receiving Jesus is the same problem we face today. We all want a Deliverer, someone to help us out of our financial struggles, our troubled relationships or our sickness. But none of us seems quite so desperate to be saved from our sins.
Daily, we break God's greatest commandment to have no other gods before him and love him with all our hearts, and yet we seek our own righteousness, because we cannot face the fact that we require the blood of a sacrificial death for turning our backs on him.
Sin has a power that leads to bondage -- bondage to self, to idols, to sin. Our God, who has control over all powers and authorities, over all of the spiritual forces in the world, over all the rebellious people throughout the course of history, hears our cries for help. And nothing can stop him from saving us except our foolish rejection of the Deliverer himself.
Lord Jesus, you are my Hope and Deliverer. In spite of my folly and waywardness, you listen to my prayers and work in ways that are too marvelous for me to understand. I give thanks that you really care, and though I live in a broken world of sin, disease and death, I know that nothing can ever separate me from your love. I give thanks for the privilege of prayer and for the truth that you are my Mediator and Advocate. In spite of the uncertainties of this life, you will never leave or abandon me. You have set me free from the bondage of sin and death, and you have graciously chosen me to accomplish something worthwhile in this life that will endure forever. May I freely lay hold of the benefits of prayer and seek your wisdom and power amid the adversities and uncertainties of this life. In your powerful and saving name I pray. Amen.