Galatians 1:3, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Often times, we limit our thinking about rescuing the perishing to those lost in sin. To be honest, we need to also think about those captured by sin and needing rescued.
One of my favorite prophets of old is Jeremiah. In the 38th chapter of his book he is captured and thrown into a deep cistern. A cistern is not something we see every day. Perhaps the old rain barrow is more familiar. In semi-arid countries it is important to save rain water. A large pit was carved in solid rock to hold rain water; these could be 40 or 50 feet deep, sometimes filled with rain water, sometimes dry and waterless.
Before the king and religious leaders, Jeremiah is accused of being a traitor. For months Jeremiah has faithfully given out the word of God. The false prophets have itching ear scratchers and bringing false news to the people. Now Jeremiah is telling the word from God, ‘if you want to live and serve God, surrender to the Babylon forces.” Jerusalem is in turmoil. No one knows whom to believe. They are afraid not to believe Jeremiah. He has been right so far and God is rescuing him. The king calls faithful Ebed-Melech to take 30 men from the palace and rescue Jeremiah from the cistern. Ebed-Melech is a battle-ready Ethiopian and he takes old clothes and rags and a good rope and goes to work.
Ebed calls out to Jeremiah, “put these rags and old clothes under your armpits and secure the rope over the cloth and I will pull you up.” Ebed is protecting the prophet from rope burn. Jeremiah is rescued and is in the courtyard of the palace. Here the king comes for a private hearing of the word. Evil did not win; God used the king and Ebed-Melech to rescue Jeremiah.
Sometimes, rescuing the perishing requires getting in the middle of a battle. When Lori first went to Guatemala, Guatemala was toward the end of a 30-year civil war. Traveling back from Cd. Guatemala to San Raymundo, they took the back, dirt roads since they have been warned there was a battle on the main highway. This did require climbing steep mountain roads with lots of hairpin curves. As they rounded a bend, in the middle of the road was a Mayan guerrilla. He was lying in a pool of his own blood. Lori and Queno stopped, administered first aid, but realized he needed more medical than they could give besides the road. They put him in the back end of her Volvo station wagon, and proceeded to San Raymundo. As they topped out at the summit of the mountain road, they were stopped by a government military unit. Under the military dictatorship it was treason to give aid to a guerrilla. They stopped to be inspected and pray. They was not a blanket covering the guerrilla; he was just on the floor of the Volvo. As the soldiers searched the vehicle, it was as if they couldn’t see him. After the military were done checking their papers, Lori and Queno proceeded to San Raymundo. Due to the number of sicknesses in a cholera epidemic, Lori had turned the church into a hospital. Lori was at this time the medical officer for UNESCO. They put the wounded guerrilla in a room at the church by himself, and Lori repaired his wounds as best as she could with antibiotics and bandages. As she was coming out the front door of the church, another government military team came to investigate the church’s sick and wounded. Lori began to pray again! As the officers checked behind the makeshift curtain walls and rooms, again, they looked over the wounded guerrilla as if he were not there.
After several days of medical treatment by Lori, the guerrilla was well enough for Queno to begin to talk to him about his soul. The guerrilla had been awake enough to realize the soldiers have passed him by twice. If they had seen him, he would had been shot on the spot, and Queno and Lori arrested for treason. The guerrilla told Queno, “Your God must be mighty powerful! I want to know him.” When he was well enough, Queno baptized the new believer, and he made his way back to the mountain village from which he came. With a copy of the Bible in Spanish, which he could not read, and a notebook of scriptures in the Mayan dialect written out by Lori and Queno, this soldier was twice rescued from perishing: rescued from bleeding to death from his wounds, and rescued by the blood of Christ that covered his sins.
Twenty-six hundred years ago, a large portion of the Hebrew nation was condemned to death. An Agite that hated the Jews was now second in authority of the Persian nation. He had tricked the Persian emperor to make a decree that in 127 nations of the Persian empire the non-Jews could kill the Jews on a certain day and take their possessions, and it would all be legal under the law. There was a good Jewish man who had raised his orphan niece, whose Persian name was Esther. Esther was now the queen of Persia, but the king was a hard-shell ruler that allowed no one in his presence at any time that he did not invite. Queen Esther was protected from all the outside news and did not know that her people were condemned to death. Uncle Mordeccai sent word to Esther that she needed to rescue the perishing Jewish people of the Persian Empire that were being condemned to death by the evil Haman. Esther was afraid to interrupt the king on the Jews behalf. Uncle Mordeccai let her know that perhaps God had brought to her position in the kingdom for such a time as this.
Esther realized that the life of a great portion of the Jewish nation was in her hands. She asked Mordeccai to call a fast for her safety as she goes before the king. She told him that she and her maidens would also fast for three days.
At the end of three days, she chose her most gorgeous gown, put on her best perfume, and dressed with her best makeup, and walked where the king could see her—and she stood still. The sight of her brought back great memories to the king, and he beckoned her to enter his throne room. the king asked her, “What would you have me do?”
Esther realized she was in no position to contradict the king’s decree; so, she invited the king and his number two man that caused the decree against the Jews to come to her palace and have supper. The king readily agreed! At supper that night, the king asked again what she would have. And the queen, a master at creating suspense, asked the two of them to come the following night for supper. On the following night, the king’s curiousity was busting out from everywhere. She told him that Haman had created a plot to murder all her people. This was a shock to the king. He did not know she was a Jew, or realized the seriousness of Haman’s request. The king and Haman were in a quandary at what to do. The king walked in the garden to think, and Haman bowed at the feet of Esther, reaching up, clinging to her, and seeking his own life. When the king walked back in, it looked as if Haman was attacking Esther, and the king came to her defense. The result was Esther rescuing her people, Haman and his sons dying on their own gallows, and Uncle Mordeccai becoming Prime Minister. The Jewish people had been rescued from perishing from a certain death.
Six hundred years later, Paul is preaching in one of those cities where the Persian Jews had a synagogue. It was Ephesus, the keeper of the goddess Diana. In this city, Paul preached to the idol worshippers that there was one true God, and He could rescue them from their idol worship of the goddess Diana. This put Paul in direct conflict with the silversmiths that made a living creating and selling silver idols of the goddess Diana. Paul was busy rescuing those locked in idolatress sin and bringing them to Christ Jesus the true God. There were so many being rescued that the silversmiths had a meeting and wanted to put a stop to Paul’s preaching. Paul was rescuing the perishing and turning the hearts of the people to the true God and not to the silver idols of Diana. This caused the silversmiths to lose income, and they had a meeting to figure out what to do with Paul. Paul wanted to address them, but his fellow Christians prohibited him because of the danger of the silversmiths attacking Paul. It was more important to win people to Christ and to rescue the perishing than to win an argument with the silversmiths. The silversmiths raged, but could do little to stop the Gospel.
You can see, if we are rescuing a saint of God from evil forces such as Jeremiah was rescued by Ebed-Melech at the king’s orders; or if rescuing a wounded guerrilla soldier, stopping his bleeding, and bringing him to be covered by the blood of Christ, rescuing him from sin; or if we stand for a whole nation that is in danger of being lost, as Esther did with the Jewish people; or if we rescue the perishing from the evil forces of idolatry; the power of our strength is in the Word of God and our Jesus, God with us.
What about Las Cruces, New Mexico? What about Agape Christian Church? We have some rescuing to do. Jenny is going to lead you in a song that most of us know; it is a challenge by God to rescue the perishing.
Now, we need to realize, just as Jeremiah was attacked by the king, we have brothers and sisters that are being attacked by the government’s political correctness. Today, military officers and chaplains have been attacked by the political correctness of the federal government for standing for their faith. It is not our place to rebel against the government, to try to get the military men released, but we can write letters send e-mails, make phone calls to our Senator and to the President, standing with the military officers that are being incorrectly punished for their stand for the Bible and Christianity. We can help rescue our military.
At the same time, we can help the wounded in this constant battle for political correctness and in the rejection of moral absolutes. While we want to honor the Great Commission and reach out to all sinners, we have brothers and sisters that our losing their job or losing their position because of their moral stand concerning right and wrong.
We have a nation that is at the tipping point. At this time we could have a rebirth to American greatness as the Persian Empire and the Jewish citizens did under Queen Esther. We had an election that threw out the good ol’ boys and girls of both political parties, as far as the presidency is concerned. This President has done more to restore Christian rights in one year than the President that preceded him did in eight years. However, he has had to fight basically the whole news media, the political leaders of both parties, and 49% of the populace that did not want this kind of change. Christians can stand with this President, encouraging him to modify his off-the-cuff remarks and to encourage him to continue his moral stand. We can back his decisions and encourage our congressmen and senators of both parties to come together in an attitude of reasoning together seeking a consensus that would be good for the whole nation. Or we can continue to fight and slide into oblivion. The Church is in control; if we can come together as Esther and Mordeccai did, we can bring a consensus to the political arena, and we can rescue our perishing nation.