They cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. (Ps. 107: 6)
It is a repeated theme because the people of Israel kept on reverting to doing that which was evil in the Lord’s sight, going their own way and yearning after foreign gods – yet still He delivered them. The book of Judges tells story after story of God raising up deliverers for His people when they cried (literally, ‘shrieked’) to Him: Othniel, Shamgar, Samson, Gideon, Deborah . . . the list is long. What is interesting to note is that not one of these rescuers is of priestly or noble birth. They did not receive a salary, did not impose tributes or pass laws; they simply fulfilled their God-ordained role by the power that the Spirit of God had placed on their lives for the deliverance of Israel.
In another act of deliverance, we read in 1 Kings 18:4 of how Obadiah, who occupied a top spot in King Ahab’s court, hid a hundred prophets of the Lord, to keep them out of the hands of the Baal-crazed Jezebel. Here was another crucial ‘rescuer’ who used his high position inside an evil court to protect Yahweh’s cause.
Whilst Elijah addressed and challenged the court from outside, Obadiah had to tread a difficult and surely nerve-wracking balancing act to serve within it.
One of the most remarkable stories that emerged from the hell-inspired Third Reich concerns Felix Kersten, who, very much to his horror, found himself appointed personal physician to the dreaded Head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler. In return for providing Himmler with the only relief he knew from agonising stomach cramps, Kersten was able to obtain the safe release of many people, particularly Jews, from concentration camps. Despite incurring the hostility and suspicion of the Gestapo, Kersten somehow escaped arrest.
As an encouraging reminder of the way the Lord never ceases to raise up men and women as deliverers and rescuers, in all manner of spheres, may I suggest a couple of films you might be interested in following up:
1) Schindler’s List: Praying for the Lord to raise up many ‘Oscar Schindlers’
I watched Schindler’s List for the first time the other day.
The epic biopic that tells the story of an opportunistic and flawed businessman, who was already working with the Abwehr (Nazi military intelligence). Over a period of time, the Lord awoke his conscience so that he came to courageously set about rescuing Jewish people from extermination, at great risk to himself. By the time the film was released in 1993, the 1200 people he had saved from deportation to the death camp at Auschwitz had already engendered over 6,000 descendants.
A film obviously has to meet certain criteria, and while this one is not accurate in every detail, it is worth noting director Stephen Spielberg’s comment to his cast, ‘“We’re not making a film, we’re making a document.”’ The film was pioneering in the way it depicted history. Time Magazine presents a worthwhile insight into the actual events we see depicted in it.
2) Massacre at Buffalo /Alone and yet not alone
I happened recently upon this 2013 film by accident the other day, and found it moving. Set in Pennsylvania during the mid-eighteenth century, and based on actual events, it is a film shot through with courageous faith. It tells the story of three teenage girls taken captive by the cruel Lenape tribe in the Penn’s Creek massacre of 1755, and who finally brilliantly made it to safety with the great help of two other captives.
It was a time of war, when the English were fighting the French for control of the colonies. Initially supportive of the English, the Indian tribes switched sides after their shameful treatment at the hands of the arrogant and abusive English commander, General Braddock. A stubborn man, he refused to heed advice about waging war in the prevailing conditions. The English suffered a crushing defeat, their bright red coats making them easy targets, and their European battleground tactics being easily used against them by their tactically more fluid opponents.
Inevitably, the film includes scenes that are hard to watch, as the kidnapped children struggle to maintain their faith in the face of incredible pressure. It also depicts a remarkable event in the life of the young George Washington, who was serving with the English Cavalry at the time. Despite having two horses shot from under him, and receiving bullet holes to his coat and hat, Washington somehow managed to walk and crawl his way out of danger, thereby being saved to embark on the highly significant role he as destined to play in the shaping of America.
Certain of the film’s themes feel very contemporary, and challenge us to prayer and repentance. There is the ill-relationship between the incoming settlers and those already living in the land, and then there are heartbreaking atrocities committed against those taken captive. Part-funded by a descendant of one the kidnapped girls, the film is beautifully cast and shot. You won’t be disappointed by the ending!
Father, You are the God of the whole world. Raise up many to respond to the calling to serve as salt and light for You. We pray for those like Obadiah, Felix Kersten and Oscar Schindler, who are called to serve in the palaces of dangerous and unpredictable rulers. Equip them with all the wisdom and directives that they need to operate safely, and to make a real difference.