Deliverance
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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 Christ.

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 escaped.

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 19:4 NASV).

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 NASV).

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 salvation."
  • 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 "Jesus."

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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