TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  God’s Saving of His People

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Chapter 19  Part I

God’s Saving of His People

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God has the capacity to save his people always – no matter what the circumstances. Thus God can save his people from all things – and ultimately he does. The Bible contains both numerous examples of God saving his people and promises of him continuing to do so.

In reading this chapter about God’s saving and preservation of his people, one should bear in mind that the Bible also speaks of God’s people experiencing sufferings common to all people (cf. 39. Hard Times) and also persecution for their faith (cf. 40. Persecution). God can and does save and preserve his people, but also does allow or even ordain difficult experiences for his people – often for reasons that may not be clear.

Promises given in the OT of God saving and preserving his people are still very much relevant under the new covenant – as is reflected in a number of NT passages. But they are more applicable in a spiritual sense – in keeping with the greater spiritual nature of the second covenant in contrast to the often more tangible aspects of the first covenant. As such we should bear in mind C. H. Spurgeon’s words: “It is impossible that any ill should happen to the man who is beloved of the Lord…Ill to him is no ill, but only good in a mysterious form. Losses enrich him, sickness is his medicine, reproach his honour, death is his gain”. (See also the introductory comment under Epilogue:  God’s Care of the Needy.)

God’s Capacity to Save His People

God is able to save his people – no matter what the circumstances

Dan 3:17  [Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to King Nebuchadnezzar:] If you throw us into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from the furnace. He will save us from your power, O king.  NCV™

1Sam 14:6b  Nothing can prevent the Lord from delivering, whether by many or by a few.  NET

God has mighty power to save his people . . .

Zeph 3:17a  The Lord your God is with you; the mighty One will save you.  NCV™

Acts 13:17b  Then with his mighty power he led them out [of captivity in Egypt], …  CEV

. . . God can perform awesome deeds to save them

Deut 26:8  [Moses, to the Israelites:] Therefore the Lord brought us out of Egypt with tremendous strength and power, as well as with great awe–inspiring signs and wonders.  NET

Dan 6:27  [King Darius, speaking of God:] He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.  ESV

The implication is that God can perform “signs and wonders” in delivering people, as he did in saving Daniel.

God does not need to use any other means but himself to save his people

Hos 1:7  [God:] But I will show pity to the people of Judah. I will save them, but not by using bows or swords, horses or horsemen, or weapons of war. I, the Lord their God, will save them.  NCV™

Here God speaks of saving his people by no other power but himself.

Note: Salvation belongs to God – for he is the only savior

Jonah 2:9  Salvation belongs to the Lord!  NET

Isa 43:11  I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.  ESV

In saying that salvation belongs to God and that he is the only savior, the Bible implies that though salvation or deliverance from trouble may take different forms, ultimately God is behind it.

 Questions for Section A

God Saves His People – from All Things

God is the Savior of his people

Ps 25:5  [David, to God:] Guide me in your truth, and teach me, my God, my Savior. I trust you all day long.  NCV™

God saves them out of all troubles

Ps 34:4-6, 17, 19  [David:] I sought the Lord’s help and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. 5Those who look to him for help are happy; their faces are not ashamed. 6This oppressed man cried out and the Lord heard; he saved him from all his troubles. … 17The godly cry out and the Lord hears; he saves them from all their troubles. … 19The godly face many dangers, but the Lord saves them from each one of them.  NET

2Tim 4:17-18  [Paul:] However, the Lord stood by me and gave me strength so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the gentiles could hear it. I was rescued out of a lion’s mouth. 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will take me safely to his heavenly kingdom. Glory belongs to him forever and ever! Amen.  ISV

Christ had rescued Paul from physical danger (v. 17) – in fact he had done so many times (cf. 3:11). However in light of vv. 6-8 which indicate that Paul’s death was near, it appears that in v. 18 Paul is not this time referring to a physical rescue but a spiritual one – where the Lord would bring him “safely to his heavenly kingdom”.

God saves his people from all their enemies

2Ki 17:39  Instead you [the Israelites] must worship the Lord your God; then he will rescue you from the power of all your enemies.  NET

2Chr 32:22  The Lord delivered Hezekiah and the residents of Jerusalem from the power of King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the other nations. He made them secure on every side.  NET

On delivering them, God may even honor his people

Ps 91:15  [God, speaking of one who loves him:] When he calls out to me, I will answer him. I will be with him when he is in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him honor.  NET

Note: God is the light of his people, giving them light . . .

Ps 27:1a  [David:] The Lord is my light and my salvation.  GW

Ps 118:27a  The Lord is our God, and he has given us light!  CEV

OT verses that speak of God giving light to his people generally use “light” to represent that which extends from God’s favor, such as salvation and well-being (cf. NIV Study Bible). By such things, metaphorically speaking the darkness of one’s circumstances is turned to light.

. . . God gives them light even in the midst of darkness

Job 29:3  [Job:] God’s lamp shined on my head, and I walked through darkness by his light.  NCV™

Mic 7:8  [Israel:] My enemies, do not gloat over me! Though I have fallen, I will get up. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.  NET

 Questions for Section B

God Redeems His People

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In the OT (from which most of the verses in this section come), references to God redeeming his people generally speak of God saving them or setting them free from oppression. Occasionally they may involve the concept of exchanging a substitute or ransom, which is prominent in the NT usage.

God is the Redeemer of his people . . .

Isa 47:4  [Israel:] Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name—is the Holy One of Israel.  ESV

. . . God redeems his people

Ps 34:22  The Lord redeems the lives of his servants; and none of those who trust in him will be held guilty.  ISV

Isa 43:1  But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  ESV

God redeems his people from enemies

Jer 31:11  For the Lord has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.  ESV

God sets them free from suffering and things that imprison

Luke 13:10-13  Now he [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, 11and a woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten herself up completely. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13Then he placed his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.  NET

Ps 116:16  [A psalmist, to God:] Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant and the son of your female servant. You have freed me from my chains.  NCV™

God will redeem his people from death

Hos 13:14a  [God:] From the power of Sheol I will rescue them, from death I will redeem them. O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is  your destruction?  ISV

Note: God vindicates his people

Ps 135:14  For the Lord vindicates his people, and has compassion on his servants.  NET

To vindicate someone is to clear them from blame; one could say it means to free or redeem from blame.

 Questions for Section C

God Helps His People against Enemies

God helps his people in need, including against enemies

Ps 121:1-2  [A psalmist:] I look up toward the hills. From where does my help come? 2My help comes from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth!  NET

Help against enemies would appear to be at least partially in view here (cf. v. 7).

God consistently helps his people in need

Ps 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.  GW

Acts 26:22a  [Paul:] I have experienced help from God to this day …  NET

God helps his people by delivering them from enemies

Ps 37:40  The Lord helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from evil men and delivers them, for they seek his protection.  NET

Heb 13:6  So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  NET

God helps his people defeat enemies

Ps 118:7  The Lord is with me to help me, so I will see my enemies defeated.  NCV™

For God fights for his people, giving victory over enemies

2Chr 20:15, 17, 22, 29  He [Jahaziel, a Levite] said: “Pay attention, all you people of Judah, residents of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Don’t be afraid and don’t panic because of this huge army! For the battle is not yours, but God’s.17You will not fight in this battle. Take your positions, stand, and watch the Lord deliver you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Don’t be afraid and don’t panic! Tomorrow march out toward them; the Lord is with you!’” … 22When they began to shout and praise, the Lord suddenly attacked the Ammonites, Moabites, and men from Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.29All the kingdoms of the surrounding lands were afraid of God when they heard how the Lord had fought against Israel’s enemies.  NET

God enables his people to overcome all that is in the world

Rom 8:31, 35, 37  [Paul, to believers:] What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?37No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!  NET

Verse 31b implies that if God is for us then no one can effectively oppose us. In all adversity we have complete victory through Christ (v. 37).

God enables his people to overcome Satan

1Jn 2:14b  [John, to believers:] I have written to you, young people, that you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one.  NET

The reference to the word of God living in these believers implies that it played a significant role in them overcoming Satan. As such this points to God enabling his people to overcome Satan.

 Questions for Section D

God Is Revealed in Saving His People

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God’s saving of his people makes known his salvation to the nations

Isa 52:9-10  Break out into shouts of joy, ruins of Jerusalem. The Lord will comfort his people. He will reclaim Jerusalem. 10The Lord will show his holy power to all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.  GW

This speaks of future deliverance for Jerusalem, in which God would demonstrate his holy power, causing all nations to see his salvation (v. 10).

God’s saving of his people makes known that he is the only God

Deut 4:34-35  [Moses, to the Israelites:] Or has any god ever tried to come and take one nation away from another for himself? The Lord your God used his mighty hand and powerful arm to do this for you in Egypt. He did this using plagues, miraculous signs, amazing things, and war. He did his great and awe-inspiring deeds in front of you. 35You were shown these things so that you would know that the Lord is God. There is no other god.  GW

God’s saving of his people reveals God’s great power

Ps 106:8  Yet he delivered them for the sake of his reputation, that he might reveal his power.  NET

This refers to God delivering Israel from the Egyptians.

God’s saving of his people reveals God’s glory

Isa 44:23b  The Lord saved the people of Jacob! He showed his glory when he saved Israel.  NCV™

God’s saving of his people evidences God’s love and faithfulness

Ps 57:3  [David:] He will answer from heaven and save me; he will defeat my oppressors. God will show me his constant love and faithfulness.  GNT

God’s saving of his people shows God’s holiness and righteousness

Ezek 28:25  This is what the Lord God says: I will gather the people of Israel from the nations where they are scattered. I will show my holiness when the nations see what I do for my people. Then they will live in their own land—the land I gave to my servant Jacob.  NCV™

Ps 98:2  The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.  ESV

 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians