I wish I could say that while all my children were growing up that I had always come to their rescue. As I write this, I really can’t think of one moment that pops up in my memory that I actually “rescued” one of my kids from imminent danger. I was rarely (if ever) the hero swooping into the rescue. Conversely, I do remember PUTTING my kids into danger with an ill-timed U-turn one night in California because I saw a Krispy Kreme donut shop out of the corner of my eye and wanted to get donuts for the next morning. Poor Everette almost gave up his life for a Krispy Kreme.
Our family life was pretty safe and secure while our children grew up. Any “rescue” that I affected was probably in terms of material needs, or emotional support, or spiritual direction rather than deliverance from danger. But… dads are supposed to be rescuers when the need arises.
Jacob was in danger (again) in Genesis 35. Trouble was everywhere. God had told him to return to Bethel; the place where he first encountered the God of his fathers. He had fled his father-in-law Laban stealing away in the dead of night. In the course of flight, he had to confront his estranged brother Esau, from whom he had stolen the blessing of their father Isaac two decades earlier. Dodging both of those encounters Jacob slithers off…not to Bethel as God had directed…but to Succoth. There Jacob settled down but only briefly due to the disastrous encounter with the Hivites. The heir apparent to the Hivite throne (a fellow named Shechem) raped Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, and then wanted to marry her. Jacob’s sons then launched a plan to kill all the men of Hamor (Shechem’s father) and then successfully carried it out (Gen. 34).
This put Jacob’s entire family in danger from the other tribes in the region. But God, Jacob’s Father, comes to the rescue. He once again directs Jacob to go to Bethel in Gen. 35:1 (Bethel means “house of God”). But it is Jacob’s admonition to his family that strikes me: So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone” (Gen. 35:2-3).
What is instructive to my purpose in writing today, I think, is the admission and acknowledgement from Jacob that whenever he found himself in distress (which was often) God always rescued him. God was ever with Jacob even when Jacob was a scoundrel, a trickster, and disobedient. God always answered his pleas for help. I have found that to be true in my life too.
The Scriptures include many, many verses that attest to the nature of God being a rescuer;( Ps. 18:1, 17, 19, 48; Ps. 31:2, 15, 17; Ps. 72, 2, 4; Ezek. 34:10, 12, 22; Dan. 3:29; 6:27, et. al.)
Never in my 45 years as a child of God, have I ever sensed being abandoned by God even though I have never “deserved” such faithfulness. In myself, like Jacob, I could never “warrant” such faithfulness to me. But my Father has always been faithful to me for Christ’s sake. It is because he “rescued” me from sin and death through faith in Christ Jesus and what he did to pay for my sins on Calvary. It is because, thereby, Christ’s goodness has been imputed to me by faith that my Father is faithful to me not because I have “earned” it. Christ earned it. Christ warrants it. Christ deserves it. But his righteous status has been imputed to all who by faith have trusted in His goodness as their only possible goodness before a holy God. Therefore, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen (2 Tim. 4:18).
I’ve never been much of a “rescuer” as a dad. But God my Father is a faithful and powerful rescuer to those who trust him and turn to him for rescue. Having rescued us from eternal damnation, will he not rescue us in the perils and trials of this life unto our appointed time? God has been so faithful to me and my family. He will be faithful to all his children who turn to him in times of distress. We may not always like the way he delivers. It might not always be easy. But he does deliver us from all our affliction. Follow him. Obey him. Trust him…and you will discover you are never without a rescuer.