“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age according to the will of our God and Father.” Galatians 1:3-4
- You can listen to this sermon here.
Usually, when we think of the benefits that come with the forgiveness of sins, we consider the eternal consequences. In this, almost, throw away line from Galatians we find another benefit of Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus died to remove our sins to rescue us from the present evil age. I don’t know that I’ve heard that before.
Even as Christians, we continue to live in a world held in the grips of sin. We confront suffering. We experience pain. We witness injustice. But Jesus died to rescue us from this age. He has another age, a better world, a heavenly destination for us: Eternity in the presence of God. That’s quite a rescue.
Although our ultimate rescue involves eternal life rather than eternal death, the theme of rescue isn’t just an abstract conjecture. God continues to rescue us in our present evil age. He cares about his people in the here and now.
I did a little Bible word search for the word “rescue” and came up with several examples from this time-space continuum.
Throughout the Bible people often cry out to God for rescue from their world. Psalm 140:1 ff pleas for God to rescue the psalmist from his “present evil age”.
“Rescue me, LORD, from evildoers; protect me from the violent, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips. Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked.”
I hope that you don’t relate too closely to that description, but maybe you do. Maybe you need to pour your heart out to God. Sometimes, even God’s people need rescue.
My favorite result of the word search is found in Judges 10:15. The Israelites have suffered punishment for idolatry for 18 years, finally “they said to the LORD, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.”” That’s a brave prayer that reflects a hopeful knowledge of God’s grace and mercy. Then look at God’s response in the very next verse, “he could bear Israel’s misery no longer” and the following chapter describes how he rescued them.
God provides eternal rescue, but we can also cry out to him when our lives in the present reach a point of despair (or before). He’s not a distant, impassive God who’s detached from the lives of his people. He’s powerful and compassionate, able and wanting to rescue us.
- What’s your impression of the prayer in Judges 10:15? Would you feel safe praying it?
- Do you agree with Paul’s assessment of the “present evil world”? Is our world better or worse than his?
- Paul’s emphasis in Gal. 1:4 isn’t the present evil world, but the rescue God provides. How can Christians avoid focusing on the evil around us and remind ourselves of God’s rescue?