The stories of God’s great power in times of trouble are some of the most comforting passages in the Bible. And they are still true for us today! Let’s dive into the scriptures and read about God’s compassion and his saving hand for his children amidst isolation, danger, and oppression.
1. Deliverance in the time of Ahab
The prophet Elijah lived under the reign of Israel’s wicked king Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. The ruling couple hated his teachings and how Elijah stayed faithful to God. After they vowed to take his life, Elijah fled. This excerpt ends with Elijah in a cave, listening to the call of his savior. From 1 Kings 19:2-19:
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again… And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And the Lord said unto him… Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
Elijah was in despair and thought that he was all alone. All that he could see was the violence and hostility toward him and his people–the social upheaval all around him. But God saw him there, hungry and frustrated. He provided Elijah with food, water, and comfort.
Elijah did live on to perform more mighty acts and train a successor. This apprentice, Elisha, had his own run-in with a king– this time, the king of Syria in 2 Kings 6:14-17:
Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
When the odds seemed stacked against us, we don’t need to feel intimidated or afraid. Whatever enemy we face or problem we find, may we always see God’s angel armies at hand to protect and surround us!
2. Deliverance in the time of the Babylonian Captivity
When the children of Israel forgot God, in judgement God delivered them to their enemies. But the Lord’s commission to his people was surprising. They were not supposed to fight back, but instead submit to the Babylonians until he would make a way for them to come back to their land seventy years later.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
Though the Israelites were strangers in a foreign land, surrounded by a culture that at times put them under persecution, God asked them to settle in. Not to conform to the new religion, but to enjoy the fruits of their labor, have children, and pray for the country. From examples like Daniel, we see that some Jewish individuals even rose to great status and influence amidst the changing regimes, acting as a blessing to those around them. Though God’s answer for his people wasn’t, “return home right away,” though their hearts were aching for all they had lost, God was good to them. Their humility brought them back to a stronger relationship with him, and they found peace in an unfamiliar place.
3. Deliverance in the time of Egyptian bondage
In Lauren Chandler’s book Steadfast Love, she does a great job of bringing to mind how the Israelites called out while in harsh slavery to the Egyptians. Though God seemed to be absent, he was listening all the time. Exodus 2:23-25:
And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
May we never think that what happens to us on Earth doesn’t impact our Father in heaven. In our pain, he is faithful to us. Just as he went on to part the Red Sea for the children of Israel, he can break open any obstacles that appear to block our way forward.
The general principle that can be applied to any time in history is that God’s redeemed can feel secure and enjoy their lives.
If we are focused on external circumstances it is easy to become discouraged. The wise King Solomon understood this feeling well. He speaks to this situation in Ecclesiastes 8:11-15, giving us hope to focus on and instructions to live by (emphasis added):
Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God. There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.
In other places in Ecclesiastes we learn that time and chance happen to everyone. We may be also affected by other people’s poor choices. But even in our fatigue, there are rewards from living a good life. We should spend time with our family and enjoy our moments together, in the assurance that wrongs will always be set right. Truth will always come to light. Maybe not right when we want it to–we may have to suffer through all of the pressure and noise of a storm as it blows through (Proverbs 10:25), but we will remain, and we can have joy.
The triumphant Psalm 118:8-9 reminds us “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.”
No matter who is in charge, or what people are doing around you, you can rest on God’s promises and know he is in control. He is reliable, all-powerful, all-knowing, and has given his only Son for you. He cares for our daily struggles, big and small. May we be thankful, and strive to grow closer to Him every day.
Did I miss any biblical victories? Can you think of a time that God has come through for you in your own life? Let me know in the comments below!