By Sigrid Fowler
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
The Lord’s Prayer is recorded in Luke 11: 2-4 and Matthew 6: 9-13. The prayer in Luke ends with “and lead us not into temptation,” but Matthew includes the petition “deliver us from evil.” Those looking to quibble over biblical inconsistencies may bring up questions about the differences in these two texts of the Lord’s Prayer, but they need not trouble us. Luke received the shortened version, Matthew the more complete one. Those the gospel writers interviewed told what they remembered, and their recall was slightly different, a very human situation. Some manuscripts of Matthew’s gospel also include the final doxology we all know—“for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Divine deliverance is well-attested in the biblical record. God came to regret creating humanity when the earth fell into constant violence. A flood cleansing the planet resulted, buthe delivered the animals and one human family—Noah, his wife and sons. Later, God delivered the Hebrew nation from Egyptian slavery. In a drama within a drama, God not only changed Israel’s history forever but also delivered them in the terrifying scene they faced. The Red Sea halted their progress as Pharaoh’s army threatened from behind, and God made a way through it. The Passover, observed yearly in Jewish homes, recalls this deliverance.
God delivered the Hebrews from their enemies again and again. He judged Israel’s idolatry and unfaithfulness to him by allowing the oppressors, but in mercy he raised up leaders to break them free. That’s what the Book of Judges is all about.Later, with one smooth stone from David’s sling, God delivered Israel from the giant Goliath, who came out from the Philistine army to challenge Saul’s forces to single combatand mock Israel’s God. When David became king, he led Israel to victory over their enemies many times. The psalms attributed to him are filled with his praise of God, the Deliverer. Psalm 27 is a good example, and in Psalm 23, which many of us have memorized, David says, “ You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cut runs over” (v. 5). Clearly the enemies are of little concern to David at this moment. He knows the Deliverer.
The psalms name other kinds of deliverance—liberation from fear, physical illness, and even death. One psalmist speaks within himself then in thanksgiving turns his attention directly to God: “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. / For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; / I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Ps 116: 7-9). Every person who knows and trusts God will remember such moments, perhaps nothing so dramatic as being delivered from death (did you ever fall asleep while driving?) but real examples of deliverance that can be explained in no other way than God’s merciful care.
Deliverance from unclean spirits was a prominent part of Jesus’ ministry. The freeing of the Gerasene man is a dramatic example. Luke says, “For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs” (Luke 8: 27b). Mark adds: “And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him” (Mark 5: 3-4). When Jesus commands, the response is immediate: “My name is Legion, for we are many” (Mark 5: 9b). It’s hard to imagine a worse situation, yet in minutes the man is delivered as the townsfolk discover: “And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting here clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5: 15).
Jesus’ ultimate purpose was the deliverance of sinners. Paul writes to the Colossians and to us: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in him” (Col 2: 13-15). Thanks be to God. And he still delivers.