Lenten Reader -- Day 11
Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. (Judges 2:18-19) ----------
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, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:2-3)
Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. (Psalm 68:20)
An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 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 1:20-21)
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:4)
God has always had a plan 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 any final sense. They could not keep people from sinning (or even keep from sinning themselves).
But Jesus could.
His name, 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 Christ is the same problem we face now. 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 the dominion of darkness, from sin.
Daily, we break God’s greatest commandment to have no other gods before him and love him with all our hearts. We seek to earn 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 to self, to idols and enemies.
But let us not forget during this season that our God (who has control over all powers and authorities, the spiritual forces in the world, and all of the rebellious people throughout the course of history) hears our cries for help and will bring us safely into his heavenly kingdom.
And nothing will stop him from saving us except a foolish rejection of the Deliverer himself.
God of mercy and grace, until you intervened, I was on a path that led only to disappointment, emptiness and death. But, because you are merciful, you brought me to see the true nature of my condition and the depth of my real need. You opened my eyes to see my spiritual bankruptcy. As I became aware of my brokenness, inadequacy and the futility of my best efforts, I cried out to you for deliverance, and you saved me. Only then could I see clearly enough to reach out and lay hold of your grace and transforming power. Thank you for the people and circumstances you used to bring this about. I give thanks for your my salvation, knowing full well that I could never have hoped to accomplish it on my own. You are my deliverer and my hope for this life and for the life to come. In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.