“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us.” Psalm 124:1-3
Having just celebrated the Feast of Esther and with Passover just ahead, we cannot but marvel and remember with gratitude the manifold deliverances God has wrought for His people.
Oh, how many times has the Lord delivered us from our enemies. How many times has He come to our aid and saved us, when the enemy would have swallowed us up.
Deliverance is a vital and central part of God’s history with us; the Bible is full of the accounts of God’s salvation of His people.
The Deliverances of God
God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. Exodus 3:8
God delivered Jehoshaphat and Judah from the hand of the Moabites and Ammonites, who came as a great multitude against them. 2Chronicles 20
God delivered Judah from Sennacherib, that Assyrian king who besieged Jerusalem. An angel of the Lord smote his army of a hundred and eighty-five thousand soldiers. 2Chronicles 32:21
God delivered Israel from Amalek, as Moses prayed. Exodus 17:8-13
God delivered Israel from the Philistines in Samuel’s time, turning the very place where the ark was lost, to a place of help and victory; it is now remembered as “Ebenezer,” The place where God helped us. 1Samuel 7:2-14
Sometimes the Lord intervened perceptibly, such as in the Exodus, or in the case of Sennacherib. At other times, the Lord helped Israel fight and win, and on other occasions, he sent confusion into the enemy’s camp. Many and varied have been the interventions of the Lord.
One of my favorite stories of deliverance is the deliverance of Samaria from Ben-Hadad king of Syria. God merely made the enemy to hear a great noise of chariots; the enemy fled though there was nothing there! 2Kings 6:24-7:20
Sometimes the Lord’s intervention and deliverance came to individuals. Hezekiah, the king, was delivered from sickness and death. The wife of one of Elisha’s disciples was delivered from poverty by God’s supernatural intervention. At another time, the Lord used Elijah to deliver the Shunamites son from death!
I will forever be giving thanks to the Lord, for my personal deliverance as the Lord appeared to me and rescued me while I was in India — bound and chained by the enemy in sin and idolatry.
Oh, how varied and wonderful have God’s deliverances been, and how we need them still now; for many threaten to destroy us still.
One of the songs, sung at Passover says, “In every generation they stand up against us to destroy us. But the Holy One, Blessed Be He, redeems us from their hands.” It is a beautiful song. Hear it here sung by two Orthodox artists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8h0yQZZyXk
But there is another kind of deliverance Israel needs, desperately, perhaps more than any other, that is deliverance from unbelief.
Deliverance from unbelief
Unbelief is not lack of faith, but misplaced faith. It trusts in the wrong thing. Hear what Paul says about Israel’s salvation in this regard.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.” Romans 10:1-4
Unbelief is, on the one hand, faith and trust in one’s own ability to establish one’s own righteousness, and on the other hand, it is a rejection and a mistrust of God who has offered salvation and justification on only one basis — the blood of HIs Son.
Far from being a little thing, it is a huge problem, and in my eyes, a great enemy. It is also a great offense to God. Faith and trust in God bring glory and honor to Him. Unbelief and mistrust greatly dishonor God.
Martin Luther said: “…..There is no other honor equal to the estimate of truthfulness and righteousness with which we honor him whom we trust . . . On the other hand, there is no way in which we can show greater contempt for a man than to regard him as false and wicked and to be suspicious of him, as we do when we do not trust him.” (Selections, p. 59 as quoted by John Piper in a sermon)1
When we pray for Israel’s salvation, we are praying that “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.“ Zechariah 12:10 The word ‘look upon’, actually also means ‘look to,' trust in.’ Israel will be delivered from unbelief by a grand revelation of their Messiah, their king and will come to believe in Him and His work.
“And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.” Rom. 11:23
Oh, how we need deliverance from the murderous hatred of Israel, that has, like cancer, spread all over the globe. How we need deliverance from our unbelief.
“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Rom. 11:26
Deliverance through intercession
To affect deliverance to the Jews, at the time of Esther, God ordained and prepared all things behind the scenes, yet everything depended on her willingness to risk her life in intercession. In fact, the Lord had sovereignly placed her in the palace, as queen, for exactly that moment.
God is utterly sovereign and providential, yet He has called His people to intercede.
The Body of Messiah (the Body of Christ), like Esther, is similarly placed and called. The Bride of Messiah is uniquely placed, not before a cruel, capricious earthly king, but before the Lord, who has bid her come to Him through the blood of His Son!
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus….”
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 10:19 and Hebrews 4:16
Deliverance unto intercession
As Esther of old, destined to become an instrument in the hand of a sovereign God, the Body of Messiah has been similarly called.
There are many parallels between Esther and the Body of Messiah in this story. Esther was chosen sovereignly by God, so were we who have believed. Esther was separated from ordinary humanity by a long preparation of oils, fragrances and other things that made her fit to be a bride of the king. The Body of Messiah has been separated from the world by the blood and water, and is being made fit by the Holy Spirit to be the Bride of Messiah. Esther was destined to intercede for her people and nation at a time of great crisis and danger. So has the Body of Messiah been chosen to come before God to be an instrument in His hands for intercession and deliverance at this time of great danger to Israel and the Body of Messiah in the world.
But Esther almost forsook her call for fear, and for the desire to save her life, and perhaps with the wish to continue enjoying her privileges.
Mordechai, so sure of God’s sovereignty warned her of the consequences. “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
Mordechai warns Esther that her effort to spare herself will not protect her from inclusion in the carnage that will follow. God would bring salvation to Israel in another way; he will see His plan through other means.
The same is true today. If the Body of Messiah in the world forsakes its intended and destined position, to come before the Lord, He will bring deliverance another way. But the Body may very well partake of the consequences of such abdication as they come upon the earth
Esther recovers from this lapse of self-preservation and regains her vision and courage. She asks the Jews to fast and pray for three days before she boldly enters to see the king. Remember that up to that moment; she had not disclose her Jewishness to anyone!
For me, three days symbolize the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua. I believe the Body of Christ needs to return to this great reality, and there find vision and courage to go forward into prayer, intercession and proclamation.
The Church is too preoccupied with herself. Much of Christianity is so centered on “me”, that the face of the Lord has become obscured and hidden. The Church, in the West, at least, has become soft, having enjoyed peace with God, and “peace” with the world. In some way, it has “hidden” its identity from the world and culture around it; mostly by becoming like it in holding the same values.
Israel is facing great challenges and dangers, and the world is in the grips of terrible conflict. What will God’s bride do?
It is time for her to turn and return to the Lord, to the cross, to her true identity. It is time for her to arise from sleep unto intercession and proclamation (declaring herself to be who she is by proclaiming Christ.)
Perhaps, you are living in these days by design?
Blessings from Jerusalem,