There are several concepts throughout Scripture which reveal the character of our  Heavenly Father. Of these, ‘Deliverance’ is  prominent and consistently portrayed from Genesis  to Revelation. Other similar words are used such as ‘Saviour’ or ‘Redeemer’ but it is interesting how  many times God is described as, ‘The Deliverer’. The word has the sense of being saved from an  enemy that has seized and captured through the intervention of another. In fact the Scriptures reveal that God is the only true Deliverer. Sometimes He  provides deliverance on a national basis and sometimes only to individuals, but the principle shown is always the same. In most cases the one captured cannot save himself – a deliverer is required.

Deliverance in the Garden of Eden

In the opening event of Genesis chapter 3, we find the first human pair being seduced and captivated  by sin through the deceit spoken of by the serpent.  As a consequence of that failure to obey their  Creator they were, for the rest of their lives, held  captive to the mortality which God had told them  would result. They would never be able to deliver  themselves, or their posterity, from that consequence  – no matter how long or short their lives.  They had so easily fallen for the serpent’s deception,  and now they and their children would bear the  consequences. It would doubtless cause them much  grief and sorrow – a sorrow which God would be  cognizant of. He promised that one day a deliverer  would be born, a seed of the woman, to defeat the  results of the deception perpetrated by the serpent.  Being unable to deliver themselves they relied on  one to come.

To give substance to their hope, God provided an illustration of the means employed to deliver  them. A lamb was slain and its skin used to give  them a covering for their shame awakened by their  sin. The skin of the sacrifice would symbolize the  covering for their sin, so they were no longer exposed  to the gaze of God. The lamb’s death was so indicative of the deliverance to come it must have  caused them to deeply contemplate their situation  and to be very thankful that God had promised an  ultimate deliverance. They would need to exercise  faith in that promise for it to become the anchor  of their hope without which their situation would  have been hopeless. It is probable they would have  had conversations with the angel who had been with them in the Garden and this would provide some  instruction and consolation. They became the first among many who looked forward in faith for one to deliver them from the fear of death to which all  their lives they were in bondage (Heb 2:15).

We are their descendents and are by nature in  a similar situation to Adam and Eve. When we  ponder this we are also acutely aware that we spend  our lives subject to the same bondage. Our need  for a deliverer is no less than theirs and the writer  to the Hebrews says, “How shall we escape, if we  neglect so great salvation” (or deliverance) that has  been offered to the human race by our God (2:3).

Deliverance of eight souls

As time and generations passed people became  less aware of the bondage to sin and death. They  forgot about the promised deliverance and the  gift of unending life for those who would faithfully  wait for it. They became preoccupied with the  transient present, forgetting about God and living  selfishly without regard to His oversight. This led  to an increase in sin and violence until God had to  intervene. The human race had become so evil that  only eight persons remembered Him with faith  in the promise made to Adam and Eve. For those  eight, God provided an interim deliverance from  His corrective judgment. God sent the Flood to restrain  evil but He also provided an Ark of Salvation  by which faithful Noah and his family would be  delivered from wickedness. It was not the ultimate  deliverance promised but it extended their lives and  reduced the level of sin. The corrective judgment  was severe, but was relative to the extent of sin and  violence which had taken over the human race. By  that means God provided temporary deliverance  for Noah, his family and subsequent generations.

The saving of Noah and his family from the  calamity of the Flood was an illustration of both a  personal and a collective deliverance. It was Noah  who had “walked with God” and it was Noah who  “found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” He alone is  listed in the catalogue of the faithful in Hebrews 11,  and his family was saved with him because they had  identified themselves with Noah’s faithfulness. They  held to a shared faith. They joined with him in building  the Ark and with Noah they experienced both the  privations and the deliverance. This is similar to God’s  offer of deliverance to us. It is not on the basis of our  righteous deeds, but because we have embraced and  identified ourselves with the righteousness and faith  of Jesus Christ. If we have faith in him as the great  deliverer promised, and engage whole heartedly in  preparation for his coming, then we are assured of  gaining a place in God’s eternal Kingdom.

Deliverance through Abraham’s seed

Even after the dramatic events of the Flood it was  not long before the folly of Noah’s generation was  repeated. Out of this population of self-centred men  and women, God, in His wisdom, chose out one  through whom the promises could be kept alive in  an alien world until the day of deliverance. That man  was Abraham, to whom God renewed and extended  the promise of ultimate deliverance with the added  promise that it would be done through his seed.

This promise was reiterated to Abraham’s son  Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Circumstances of great  famine led Jacob and his sons to leave the land of  Canaan to which God had initially called them and  to go down to Egypt where they were graciously  given food and land to dwell in. At first the Egyptians  were welcoming but as Israel grew in numbers and  the royal dynasty of Egypt changed, their hosts grew  suspicious and enslaved them. The Israelites were set  to work building cities and were treated harshly. These  punitive measures meant they were no longer free to  worship their God. Their position seemed hopeless.  Their cries ascended to heaven and their God heard.

God was faithful to His promise. He knew  of their dire position. He sent His angel to say to  Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people  which are in Egypt … for I know their sorrows; And  I am come down to deliver them out of the hand  of the Egyptians, and to bring them up … unto a  land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3:7–8).  But Moses was not able to singlehandedly deliver  his people. God said to him, “I will send thee unto  Pharaoh that thou mayest bring forth my people the  children of Israel out of Egypt” (v10) and significantly  added, “Certainly I will be with thee” (v12).

Deliverance against a hardened heart

It was a humanly impossible undertaking. Moses  was to take up to 2 million dispirited slaves out of  the control of the great power of Egypt, without any  visible support other than a wooden staff (and faith  in God)! Clearly it was not to be a human undertaking  and from the outset Pharaoh was implacably  resistant. He was not going to let his slaves go. They  were to remain under his invincible control. Thus it  was to be a contest between the God of Heaven and  the human might and determination of a powerful  king. God has available all the power by which He  had created the world and keeps it sustained, and  through a series of ten dreadful plagues over which  the Egyptians were powerless, Pharaoh was finally  forced to say to the Israelites – “Go!”

This was to be one of the great deliverances which  God provided for His people in the course of their  history. It was in fact to be an illustration, a prototype,  of the great deliverance from sin and death originally  promised to Adam and Eve. And again a ritual was  provided by which the deliverance was to be remembered  and regularly memorialized. As in Eden, a lamb  was to be slain and its blood sprinkled on the doors  of all their houses to signify they had faith in the  deliverance God had promised. Annually the sacrifice  of the Passover lamb was to be re-enacted in memory  of the great deliverance from Egyptian slavery and  to reinforce their continued looking forward to the  ultimate deliverance from sin and death.

The death of every Egyptian firstborn on the  night of the Passover caused such distress on the  Egyptians that Pharaoh told the Israelites to immediately  go. But later he reversed that command  and with his army set out to bring them back.  Again God intervened for His deliverance was  not to be thwarted. As the Israelites crossed the  Red Sea through a divinely provided pathway the  Egyptians were caught by the sea returning and  were all drowned. It was a great deliverance and  has been celebrated ever since by faithful Israelites.

Prayers heard and answered

Another example of deliverance by God’s faithfulness  occurred during the reign of King Hezekiah. It was when the Assyrian Empire was reaching its  zenith, having conquered many nations including  the northern kingdom of Israel. Many had been  taken captive to Nineveh and Judah’s days were  numbered! God’s city, Jerusalem, stood in their path  and was an affront to the ambition of the Assyrian  king, Sennacherib. While Hezekiah took all practical  steps he could to strengthen the defences of  the city, his primary trust was in Yahweh, the God  of their fathers. The power of the king of Assyria  was terrifying and was painfully felt by Judah. City  after city fell until only Jerusalem was left (2 Kings  18:13). Sennacherib sent a letter to Hezekiah demanding  surrender. To all appearances Hezekiah’s  forces would have been unable to resist but, with  faith in the God of his fathers, Hezekiah took the  letter to the Temple and spreading it out, prayed  for deliverance. God heard and answered the prayer  and saved His city by a miraculous deliverance. That  same night God sent His angel and 185,000 of the  Assyrians perished in their sleep. In the morning the  rest fled and returned to their own country.

This was a very great deliverance by the power  of God alone. It came as a result of the faithfulness  and trust of Hezekiah. It typifies the yet future  deliverance spoken of by the prophets when the  enemies of Israel make a final effort to destroy the  nation. God will save them for His Name’s sake.

The prophet Daniel was an example of one who  risked his life in demonstrating faithfulness. When  his consistent worship of God caused him to be  thrown into the den of lions, the Persian king, Darius,  who greatly respected Daniel asked, “O Daniel, servant  of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest  continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” (Dan  6:20). God responded to Daniel’s prayer of faith  and shut the lions’ mouths and delivered him. It is  another example of God’s ability (and willingness)  to deliver in the face of certain death.

The Son of God was saved out of death

All of these acts of deliverance are illustrations of  the great and ultimate deliverance to be provided  by God for His people. The Lord Jesus Christ will  return at the appointed time to avenge God’s people  and redeem them. He will be the deliverer who will  come out of Zion and shall turn away ungodliness  from Jacob (Rom 11:26; Joel 3:16). But it required  that the Lord, himself, should firstly be delivered  from the tyranny of sin and death. That deliverance  was wrought upon the same basis as the foregoing  instances – God’s Word being faithfully obeyed and  honoured. The psalmist shows the determination of  the Lord to always set his Father before him: “because  he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved”  (Psa 16:8–11). His struggle was intense, in life and  in the Garden of Gethsemane. With strong crying  and tears he cried unto Him who could deliver him  out of death (Heb 5:7). We marvel that he was never  under the dominion of sin and, in a nature where  sin normally holds sway, he crushed sin in the head  and rendered it impotent. His Father was pleased to  raise him victorious from the grave and, through the  victory of the Father and the Son, our deliverance  is assured. Paul says that we are “delivered from the  bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of  the children of God,” and are “more than conquerors  through him that loved us” (Rom 8:21–23, 31–39).  How thankful we should be that in saving himself,  the Lord can save others, including us!

Examples of individual faithfulness and trust  in God are found throughout the Scriptures. God  has promised that men and women can be delivered  from sin and permanent death by their faithfulness  and that deliverance will come when the promised  deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ, returns to the earth  to establish God’s Kingdom. Truly these are glad  tidings! This good news is the gospel of salvation  which God has promised from the foundation of  the world. As we have seen, Christ will provide  deliverance for God’s national people of Israel and  for faithful individuals of every generation. At that  time all God’s people will be delivered, everyone  that is found written in the book of life (Dan 12:1).

We would all wish to be included in that great  salvation promised to God’s family yet it requires  our deep conviction and trust in the living God.  Only those who demonstrate such personal faith  will receive the promised blessing of eternal life  – that final, great deliverance. So as we await that  deliverance soon to come, let us focus our lives on  the ways of God and walk worthy of our calling.  God has repeatedly shown that He is willing to  save His people. Those examples of deliverance can  stimulate us to manifest faithfulness in our own  challenging times so that we are able to say, like  the friends of Daniel, our God whom we serve is  able to deliver us … and He will deliver us out of  our enemy’s hand.