When you think of the word deliver, do you envision being delivered TO or delivered FROM? Is a newborn delivered from the womb or into the world? Does a mailman deliver a package from a sender or to your door?
Playpen or baby gate?
And when you’re delivering your child from danger, do you use a playpen or a baby gate—keep the child in or out? Well, the answer depends on the baby’s stage of development, right? If he/she is young and not-too-mobile, a playpen will do, but if the wee one is crawling, walking, and generally a mini-wrecking-ball, the baby gate’s a must-have.
During our grand-daughter’s recent visit, we discovered her mother’s old baby gate in the rafters of the garage. In the picture above, notice the careful placement of objects behind the baby gate: stairway, grandma’s purse, fingernail polish remover, new books.
Question: Who (or what) was being delivered in this scenario?
Answer: Grandma! I didn’t want to spend our whole visit saying, “No-no! Don’t touch that!”
So, let’s say Israel is Yahweh’s baby (not a stretch since Yahweh called the Israelites His firstborn in Ex. 4:22)… Remember that Yahweh—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—promised to give Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan. Yahweh changed Jacob’s name to Israel after an all-night wrestling match (Gen. 32:24). Israel had twelve sons, one of whom was named Joseph.
Poor Joseph was sold by his brothers and taken as a slave to Egypt. Years later, a God-ordained drought caused both Egypt and Canaan to experience a severe famine that brought his brothers to Egypt, where they discovered Joseph had become the second-most-powerful ruler in Egypt. Yikes!
But instead of bringing the hammer down on his brothers, Joseph “delivered” them into the safety of Egypt’s plentiful provision. Father Jacob (Israel), Joseph’s brothers, their wives, and children are safe in the confines of Egypt’s borders.
“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Genesis 45:4-7
Moses—the Baby Gate
Jacob’s family grew into a nation while enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. The Children of Israel learned what it meant to yearn for God, to form a national identity, to hold tight to the promises of their forefathers. And when it was time for their deliverance, Yahweh called Moses to place the proverbial “baby gate” at the Red Sea—protecting them from Pharaoh’s army, establishing Israel’s independence from Egypt forever.
“And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you [Moses] to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’” Exodus 3:9-10
Little By Little
Deliverance seldom looks like we’ve envisioned it. Whether God delivers us to or from, in or out, if we’re His child, we can be certain our lives will unfold according to God’s good plan (Rom. 8:28).
Why do we so often think deliverance includes unbridled freedom? Do we teach a baby to walk in the middle of a field without something to hold onto or lean against? Many times, it’s the obstacles that provide the steadying pace by which we learn to walk His path.
Yahweh said to Moses, “But I will not drive [the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites] out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” Exodus 23:29-30
Your Deliverance and Mine
So what about you and me—do we need a playpen or a baby gate? A Joseph or a Moses? Well, I suppose it depends on what stage of development we’re in, doesn’t it? Here are a few things the Lord is teaching me about deliverance—through Joseph and Moses:
- My deliverance is ongoing. My Abba will continue to deliver me—in whatever way He knows best—until the day I see Him face-to-face.
- I need to recognize each small step of deliverance—and thank the LORD for it.
- Look for His unconventional deliverance…and delight in His creativity.
- When I feel I can’t hold onto the end of the rope any longer, know that His deliverance may simply be the strength to tie another knot. So, I must take a deep breath…and tie another knot.
- Sometimes deliverance is a playpen, providing safety while we’re confined to wait.
- Deliverance seldom looks like we’ve envisioned it, but it’s always as God intended it.
- Oftentimes obstacles provide the steadying pace by which we learn to walk His path.
- If you were to be “delivered” from whatever confines you today, how would your life be different? Better? And how might a too-quick or easy deliverance be a pitfall?