Tag Archives: escape

Ransom

Why would teenage girls leave freedom and join up with ISIS?  Why would they willingly give themselves to a group that enslaves and abuses women?  Somebody must have lied to them, told them they would be better off, that their lives would matter, that they would be fulfilled.  Who knows what else?  And they bought it.  They believed the lies.

Suppose they get to Syria and pledge themselves to ISIS: what comes next?  Nothing good.  So, what would happen if these girls realize they’ve made a mistake and want to go back to Mom and Dad?  Almost certainly, ISIS would say, “No, we own you now; your lives belong to us.”   What if the girls have babies?  Those babies would be born into captivity and would belong to ISIS, too.   And what if Mom and Dad wanted to buy their daughter back – how much would ISIS demand in exchange for just one of their lives?  I’m not sure another life would be enough.

This modern day scenario works as a parable to explain how we humans have rebelled, bought into lies, run away from “Home” and have become enslaved and owned by Satan.  He holds us hostage, separated from God and destined for death.

Psalm 49 sums up our predicament:

“No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him— the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enoughthat he should live on forever and not see decay.” (Psalm 49:7-9)

He says, there is no way any of us could pay enough to escape death and attain eternal life.  None of us could pay for anyone else, either.  Nevertheless, this same psalmist was inspired to know this:

“But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.” (Psalm 49:15)

No man can pay enough so God will do it; He will redeem me.  God gave that writer a peek and a hint of the most amazing good news!  God will pay the ransom and it will be enough.  As revealed to the prophet, Hosea, God said:

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death…” (Hosea 13:14a)

Jesus explained that His coming crucifixion would fulfill the promise of God:

“… the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” (Matthew 20:28b)

You can be set free.  You can return to your real “Home.”  You can escape death.  Here is the deal:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

Keep the Faith – Part 5

Sneaking out of North Korea is so demanding and dangerous, it is only attempted by a tiny percentage of people.  After one leaves family and friends behind, the route involves perilous travel through China, avoiding detection at constant identity checks, tramping through thick jungles in Laos and then enduring 2 months of detention in Thailand before being allowed to apply for refugee status in South Korea.  There are so many potential obstacles, so many ways to get caught and sent back for torture and possible death, that the odds are stacked heavily against those who attempt it.  That is also why there are former escapees who serve as guides (sometimes, but not always for a fee) to show new escapees which routes and techniques are safe.  More than that, they serve as living evidence that the path to freedom is possible and definitely worth it!  Imagine how encouraging those guides must be to the confused and frightened souls who are on the run to freedom.

The author of Hebrews has been exhorting people of faith, teaching us ways to keep our faith in times of severe testing.  One of his teachings says:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus went first.  He showed us the way and how it is done.  He came back and said, “Don’t be afraid; it’s really worth it!”  He did it “for the joy set before Him.”

There is no joy in being crucified.  Crucifixion remains as one of the most painful and horrific ways to die.  The “joy set before Him” was not the cross but lay on the far side of the cross.  The “joy” was in the triumph over sin that was accomplished on the cross.

Some of you are enduring the pain of chemotherapy, scorning the “shame” of losing your hair, for the joy of being cancer-free.  Some of you are enduring the financial hardship and stress of working two or three jobs for the joy of seeing your children graduate.  Jesus invites us to “pick up our cross,” figuratively speaking, and follow Him.  He invites us to follow Him despite how tough or painful, or even shameful it may seem to be, for the joy of being “raised up on the last day” to live with Him in His new and perfect “garden.”  He said:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”  (John 14:1-4)

When they asked Him where He was going and what was the way, He said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6)

Following Jesus is nothing less than a desperate escape from the world’s system of slavery.  Don’t be surprised or confused by how tough and scary it seems.  Keep your eye on your Guide.  He’s been there, “done that” and has returned to demonstrate that following Him is really worth it.