RESCUED, REDEEMED AND RESTORED

RESCUED: Let’s look at a few divine rescues in the Bible

The Flood – To be rescued, Noah had to believe God and break out of his routine and the pressing worldview of demonic mythology, genetic manipulation of the Fallen Angels, the creation of trans-humans and monsters in the crossing of kinds, chimeras, giants, and assorted pleasure-seeking, God-rejecting, pagan practices.

Joseph, Jacob’s Son – Prince of Egypt, a teenager, sentenced to the prison on trumped up charges making sexual advances to his boss’s wife. Forgotten, left to rot in a foreign jail with no family, no legal protection, no money, and no hope of getting out, except on the slim chance that his literal dream of his family bowing down to him meant something to the One who sent it and would bring him to a place of ruler ship somehow, some day.

The Exodus – The 400 years of hard service, slave labor, the loss of their children to the whims of an insecure Pharaoh, the impossible expectations for making bricks without straw, being immersed in a totally pagan culture taken over by the gods of Egyptian mythology, living in a world controlled by those who ran it, constantly living in a state of slavery, misery and martial law, endangered and afraid, living constantly in the presence of death.

The Red Sea – Entrapped, cornered between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s advancing army with only one way they could go. What kind of a God would lead His children right into the jaws of the enemy after such a stupendous escape from Egypt only days before? Had all the resistance and faith and the blood of the lambs smeared on their door posts come to this?

The Wilderness Of Sin – Exhausted and tired of waiting, the ransomed began to murmur. They longed for the comfort foods of home and for an end to this mindless wandering. Had they been rescued to roast in the hot sun of a scorching desert after living the impossible life of over a million people surviving in the desert without any of the regular provisions of food and water, or security for months? God answered their cry for food but permitted a plague of the serpents to come with it.

Had this come upon them as a mark of God’s displeasure or was this the hidden work of the Accuser who sought to scourge them with his demonic judgments as a result of their murmuring and unbelief against God. And what a strange remedy Moses gave for the dying. Look and Live! They were to look at the serpent on the pole to be healed from the sting of death. What a strange command from God! How did all of this work in the world of spirits and plagues and sin and divine rescue?

And as the book of Hebrews fails to exhaust the staggering list of other great rescues, we see Daniel, Lot, and Gideon. We remember David and Jeremiah and Samson and countless others who were delivered and vindicated and rescued by the outstretched hand of God. But, we also must acknowledge the many others who were not rescued in a manner commiserate with, (to lament with or be sympathetic with) the “Happily Ever After” ending we like to see.

This is a strange breed “of whom the world was not worthy” who were eaten by the lions, sawn asunder, wandered in deserts and caves of the earth, wore sheepskins and were destitute, afflicted and tormented, (Heb. 11:37-38). “All of these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (Heb. 11:39-40). So, were they not rescued or were they rewarded instead, with their final release from the trials of their faith, through to the other side of God’s faithfulness, His final unveiling of His finished work in us.

The pattern seems to be oppression, conflict, divine intervention, the Word of the Lord released, the Word embraced and acted upon, the deliverance from fear, protection in the conflict, rescue from the enemy, the restoration of blessing and provision, (like the plundering of their Egyptian neighbors) which will lead to the reward and return home and then the last battle that sentences the enemy to his final end.

 

DO YOU WANT TO BE WELL?

The Pool – a certain, nameless, hopeless common man who had an infirmity for 38 years waited at the Pool of Bethesda. What sin had he done? Or was it his parents who had sinned that left this man in such an awful state of debilitation and disadvantage? The common theological response to calamity was that it was a punishment for sin. Could there be another explanation besides sin? Jesus said this man’s condition was that the glory of God might be revealed.

The Man – what could be the hope of a man who had been trapped in his body for 38, forced to rely on the good will of others, taken advantage of on a regular basis, discounted, cast out, over looked, seen as a burden both to himself and others, always on the wrong end of needing help, at the mercy of the merciless, crushed in his faith and stripped of any dreams or visions to live his life in any more than this miserable way.

Who wouldn’t be crabby, and despairing? Are these even profound enough words to describe his condition? I’m sure not. What could he do? Every time he was thirsty, or hungry, or had to go to the bathroom he would have to wait, and beg and humble himself to ask for help again. Every one of his needs was a daily burden. He was controlled by this paralysis or restricted by this blindness to the point where the healing of the others had become a cruel reminder of the insurmountable injustice that surrounded his life.

Can we understand the irritability and impatience of this man who must have been beside himself with the helplessness of his entrapment? He had no resources, or maybe they were already spent. A lot like the lepers, he was rotting away as he lay there. Their only advantage was that their legs and arms still worked so they could scavenge for their own food. Did he have a family? There must have been someone who had given up their life to carry his.

Jesus must have seen in this man’s situation a microcosm what the Enemy had done to scorch and crush His creation and corrupt man who had been made in his image. The pain and sorrow and loss this one man told the story of many lives afflicted by the demonic beings who were at war with Him over the souls of mankind.

And so He came, to carry Man out of his place by the pool where he lived in a helpless, empty hope of the anything ever changing. Heaven saw his miserable little world of bitterness and pain and decided to make a statement to the powers of darkness. Jesus stepped in to touch this one with the Word of life that could transform his life into something he had never even dreamed it could be. And is this not what we are all looking for, deliverance, breakthroughs and blessings?

But can we make the transition past the negativity of “it is what it is” to receive good things after so many years and decades of the same old life of hardship, lack, loss, shame, and listening to the inner voices that speak condemnation and death to us to reach out and receive the miracle? The body of death, that body of recorded information and experiences we have been diabolically programmed to respond to and to believe, has systematically reconditioned us to trade the life given to us by God for a slow, sudden death.

 

THE POOL OF BETHESDA

This Pool by the Sheep Gate with the five porches had one strange supernatural feature that attracted the lame, the blind, and the paralyzed. One last hope for rescue – there always seems to be one last hope. But isn’t that what hope is, the one last chance, the one last thing to try, the one last idea that might change everything around and change my life forever to deliver me from this weary, inevitable course I am on in my rendezvous with death, annihilation or extinction, or damnation?

We have become too familiar with our helpless human condition, and in that is the folly of the lie that what has always been will always be. That we will forever be forced to live at the mercy of the ruthless haters of God like helpless sheep forced to live in the midst of a pride of lions that kill for fun and think nothing of ripping to shreds the innocent and terrifying our young. How do we live courageously in even in a semblance of safety in this world filled with danger and injustice if it were not for the goodness of God?

How can we live so peaceably and complacently on a planet that is spinning and rotating and orbiting while being suspended in the vast blackness of infinity without getting dizzy, or be afraid of being annihilated? How can we even lay our head on the pillow at night without being terrified of dying, totally tiny and trapped on terra firma that is not all that firm or friendly?

Life does not always work out and for some, to live is worse than to die. This man Jesus stooped down to speak to a broken man who laid crumpled up at the gate of a place no one wished to stay. He was not resting on the pool-side lounge chairs in the finely manicured courtyard of a Marriott but on the cold stone slabs that edged the pool of Bethesda. This “house of kindness” seemed more like an extension of cruelty for those who waited for the mysterious stirring of the water! To this house that day, the Shepherd came in search of His little lost sheep, one of the multitude of stricken humanity.

“Do you want to be made well?” He asked? Was it even a question that needed to be asked? Yes, most definitely. Was it a sensitive, well thought inquiry or a harsh reprimand couched in a judgment that had come as a result of this man’s sin? And since the conversation ended with the admonition to “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” we might think this was the point of Jesus’ teaching as much as it was an opportunity to heal. Most would say, see, he sinned and he had it coming.

Was that not the conclusion of all of Job’s friends? But, was that God’s conclusion to and explanation for Job’s miserable condition? Never, not even close. When God told Job to pray for his friends because they have not spoken that which is right concerning Me, He was, in essence saying, “I did not do this!” This was the work of the Evil One, the very one who Christ taught us to pray to the Father to deliver us from. Did Jesus not know of the hatred and heartless accusation of the Evil One?   Was He ignorant of the Devil’s treacherous retaliation against the God of Heaven and Earth using the very children created by God to vindicate himself? Or did Jesus know the truth?

Of course He did, and this inquiry by Jesus into the man’s condition is proof of the war that God had been in since Lucifer rebelled. Thus, the man at the pool became a point of contact where Heaven was about to engage Hell in combat. This man’s soul would become a battle ground where the contest would be determined. Would he believe the past and the programming of the Enemy or would he believe the report of the Lord?

 

ARE WE READY TO BE RESCUED?

But, look more closely. Would it not make perfect sense to ask any one stuck for a long long time in a very difficult place like the man who laid beside the Pool for 38 years, one, basic, important question? “Do you want to be well?”

Jesus was helping this sufferer to prepare for his healing by clarifying his own desire to be healed. This thing that had overtaken him, to the point that he may not even have known who he was any more, had to be uncovered. How many times might he have made an agreement with “It’s no use”, “I give up”, “I hate my life”, “It is never going to change”, “What is the use”, “This is my cross to bear, my lot in life”, “It is what it is”, “This will never work”, “it’s not fair”, and a thousand such similar silent agreements that had been made with hell?

Now add to it the intrinsic feelings of anger and guilt and resentment and the internal battle with his own faith and see if you would have been able to defeat the arguments “guilt” has made against you, like, “I must have had it coming”, “I am guilty”, and “I deserve this divine judgment for my sin and short comings”.

Through His question, Christ offered to this man the opportunity to cancel out his previous agreements with despair and hopelessness so divine mercy and the true heart of God could be revealed. For all of too long, the ruthless demon deities with their cruelty and retaliation and their “trick or treat” mentality had worked to psychologically batter human kind into believing all the gods were insecure and demanding and vindictive. Why would this One Who claimed to be the Son of God, be any different?

And though the Jews claimed to follow the “One True God,” they too had been immersed in the culture of demons and mythology which tainted their world with superstitions and questions. The Law that set them apart and distinguished them from the pagan practices and protected them from the accusations of the Adversary had been broken more times than they had been kept, which only lent credence to the idea that God was no different than the heathen gods who required much service and sacrifice and heaped loads of judgment and consequences on those who disobeyed them.

Even those who followed God’s Law to the letter had not really experienced a very loving or true revelation of the character of the One Jesus called the Heavenly Father. God’s expectations seemed no different to them than those of the demon gods. The only genuine love and willingness they saw demonstrated yet failed to comprehend, was between this man, Jesus and the One He called the Father. Only between them there seemed to be no hideous competition that the pagan gods displayed in their territorial rivalries and turf wars over the humans.

 

A SECOND TIME

So, when the man responded yet another time with the same, frustrating explanation of his problem, as he saw it, Jesus knew the man’s excuses had turned into reasons and that he had been in this condition “a long time”. How long is too long, at what point is every hope lost in the past and there are no more trains, or buses leaving the station? Your destiny, your destination, collapse into a pile of rubble and waste.

Jesus understood what this man did not know, that there could be another way! To believe there could be a change, a healing that didn’t require being dipped in the pool. Jesus saw his heart and the demonic infestation that held this man bound and made the decision for him. “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” The instruction to rise was His to give because of the authority He carried. In His own not too distant future He knew he would also be commanded to “Rise”, but for now, the order obeyed gave the man the permission to go and the devil that bound him to leave his human habitation. This is the power of the One Who is life and to Whom every knee will bow, without exception!

And in that moment the real miracle happened, not the release from paralysis or blindness, but the courage to live again, believe again, to receive, to realize, to know that things would never go back to the indescribable dependence upon others for the meager crumbs necessary for existence just to maintain his life of pointless pain and disappointment. You are free to go and do things for yourself, a gift most of us do not even think to appreciate. You will not be a burden or a bother any more. Your dignity is yours to have. You are loved and you are well.

That took grace and courage. That was where the healing happened, in this man’s mind and heart. There first, and then to the lesser parts and places of his need. Jesus knew no “keeping of the law”, even if kept perfectly, could free this man or give him an abundant life; nor did the healing come as he had imagined. No angel, no troubling of the special waters of the pool, only the Man who stop to ask a question, a question he never did answer with his mouth, had brought this miracle.

“See, you have been made well.” “See”, look, understand, recognize what has happened and what has changed that changes everything. If we do not comprehend the miracle, the deliverance will not remain. The Enemy will subtly again catch hold of our mind and perceptions and fill our heads with lies and fear. We must “see” to “stand”, and “having done all, to stand” is the command. Reflect upon what God has done for you that was not of your own doing.

Fear the Lord and depart from evil. “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Jesus said. I know how this curse, calamity thing works and how sin gives the Devil a place and a case against you. I know how he builds his argument against you using your agreements with him to present the evidence to the High Court as the Accuser of the Brethren to petition the Court for the right to continue to work the Patterns of Demonic Judgment against you. “I have come that you might have life and life more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). I have just spoken in your behalf. Let not My intervention be just an interruption, but truly a deliverance from the “grip of the terrible one”.

And as it ended up, this was truly not as much a health issue as it was a legal one; a need for pardon and forgiveness. The same is true for the two women, the one at the well of Sychar and the other thrown down at the feet of Jesus accused of adultery. For both the question became one of who is eligible to cast the first stone. Who is without sin, let him be the first to judge.

In both, the character of the Righteous Judge is calling into question. Will He defend the sin to acquit the sinner? Or will He be able to separate the sinner from their sin in order to save the one bound by sin and release the judged while still serving both His justice and His mercy? Why, how, can our God as manifested in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ be the God of second chances and forgiveness and peace and restoration and mercy if we ARE the sin we do? He can only be loving and just if we are not the things we do, though often bound and controlled by those things we have been deceived into doing. God’s mercy and grace and forgiveness and justice only make sense if there is a Devil who has come to kill and steal and destroy the precious sons and daughters of God. But, oh, how twisted and convoluted the Devil has been in his rendering of the concept of God to us! He confuses us and alienates us from the only ONE who can deliver us. Sin and the religious theologies around it separate us from coming to the only ONE who can help us.

Sin and the guilt that comes from committing it become the Devil’s main evidence in the case he presents against us, the accused. Jesus knows the argument Satan presents against us and how the Enemy uses our own agreement with the lie and the sin that springs from it to call for our indictment. He is requesting the permission of the High Court of Heaven, based on the “evidence” he has presented, for the right to continue to work his patterns of Demonic Judgment against us. Those are the very patterns that Jesus desires to break, to set the “captives free”. It is only our faith in Jesus and our obedience to Him and belief in the truth that allows His power and His will to be done in us.

So the question remains, “Do you want to be well?” It is the starting place for any rescue, redemption or restoration. “Do you believe I can do this?” “Do you want to be made well?” if you say “yes” all things are possible to those who believe and in the case of His reliability and power, “nothing is impossible with God”. Do you believe this? Do you know that God is true and cannot lie? Do you know that He loves you and has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that He has promised He will be with us until the very end”?

 

*Immediately healing or change strongly suggests the removal of a demon, (though not all demons leave suddenly all the time), because the sudden changes were released as a direct result of the evil spirit’s letting go of the particular, specific or vital function of the body he was in charge of.

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