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What is "deliverance?" People often use the term "deliverance" as if it
were synonymous with "the casting out of demons." Indeed, deliverance
may entail casting out demons, but the term, as used in Scripture, has a
much broader meaning and deeper significance.
In the Bible, "deliverance" conveys an overall picture of salvation
through the hand of a loving and powerful God. It describes the full
impact of Jesus' death and resurrection being applied to and outworked
in the lives of God's people. And it signifies the fulness of freedom in
There are at least 35 Old Testament words and 12 New Testament words
which, at some point (in the King James and/or New American Standard
translations), are translated as "deliver, deliverer,
deliverance, etc." These various words can generally be arranged into
four areas of meaning. By looking at these four areas, we get a
comprehensive understanding of what the Bible means by "deliverance,"
and we can arrive at a functional definition of the term.
The first meaning of "deliverance" is "to deliver out of the hands
of..., to escape." This meaning illustrates God's rescue of His
people from the dominion of Satan and the world system. An example is
found in the Hebrew word Natsal (Strong's #5337) which is defined
as "to snatch, take away; to snatch out of danger, preserve, deliver
anyone from danger." For example:
And Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done
to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the
hardship that had befallen them on the journey, and how the Lord
had delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced over all the
goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering
them from the hand of the Egyptians. So Jethro said, "Blessed be
the Lord who delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians
and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who delivered the people
from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know the Lord is
greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt
proudly against the people" (Exodus 18:8-11 NASV).
The same sense is poetically conveyed in Psalm 124:7 (NASV) by a word
meaning "to slip away, to escape, deliver from danger."
Our soul has escaped (Malat Strong's #4422) as a bird
out of the snare of the trapper; the snare is broken and we have
The second meaning of "deliverance" adds the idea not only of rescue
but also of "drawing someone to one's self." This concept shows
that God's motive behind deliverance is His fervent desire to fellowship
with His people upon whom He has set His unfathomable love. The
following two verses both beautifully capture this thought.
You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how
I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself (Exodus
For He delivered (Rhuomai Strong's #4506: to rescue, to
draw out, hence to draw to one's self, to deliver) us from the
domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His
beloved Son (Colossians 1:13 NASV).
The third meaning of deliverance is "to deliver into the hands
of...for the purpose of judgement." This idea involves God bringing
His people into confrontation with their enemies so that they can defeat
them in battle. The Old Testament picture of Israel confronting the
Canaanite nations typifies the battle of the New Testament believer
against the powers of darkness and the ongoing influence of the world
system. For example, God promised Israel:
And I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of
the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates;
for I will deliver (Nathan Strong's #5414: to give) the
inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them
out before you (Exodus 23:31 NASV).
This aspect of deliverance requires the believer to be equipped by
God with spiritual weapons of warfare. God will supply the power to
defeat the enemy once the believer faces the enemy in faith. David gives
us an example of God's faithfulness to the one who will face the enemy:
Then David said to the Philistine [the giant, Goliath], "You
come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to
you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of
Israel,whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver
you up (Sagar Strong's #5462: to shut up, fig. to surrender;
to deliver into anyone's power) into my hands, and I will strike
you down and remove your head from you..." (I Sam 17:45-46
The fourth and last meaning of deliverance is "to have ample space
between oneself and one's enemies." It is the end result and goal of
the process of deliverance, where one's enemies have been beaten back
and brought into subjection, so that they do not press in to harass,
distress, and endanger a person or his land. This idea is expressed as follows:
And Thou hast not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
Thou hast set my feet in a large place (Psalms 31:8 NASV).
From my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me
and set me in a large place (Psalm 118:5 NASV).
This concept of safety is captured in Hebrew in the word, Yasha
(Strong's #3467) meaning "to be spacious, ample, broad." It was used of Samson
where it was said that "he shall begin to deliver Israel from the
hands of the Philistines" (Judges 13:5), thus enabling Israel to live in
peace from her enemies.
In the Hebrew language, the following words, all defined as
"salvation," are derived from the word "yasha":
- Yeshuah (3444)--II Samuel 22:51--"He is a tower of
deliverance to His king."
- Yesha (3468)--Psalm 27:1--"The Lord is my light and my
- Teshua (8668)--I Samuel 19:5--For he (Jonathan) took his
life in his hand and struck the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a
great deliverance for all Israel.
- Yeshua (3442), same as Yehoshua (3091), is defined
as "the Lord is salvation" and is the English names "Joshua" and
By combining the above four categories of meaning of the many
Biblical words translated as "deliverance," we arrive at the following
comprehensive definition of deliverance:
TO BE REMOVED BY GOD FROM THE HAND OF THE ENEMY AND DRAWN CLOSE
TO HIMSELF, FROM WHICH POSITION GOD PLACES US IN
CONFRONTATION WITH THE ENEMY ON GOD'S OWN TERMS, IN ORDER FOR US
TO GAIN VICTORY AND DEFEAT THE ENEMY, AND TO EXPERIENCE FREEDOM
FROM OPPRESSION IN AN AMPLE AND SECURE PLACE.
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