1. Assisted Escape 

The second aspect of the prayer says, “cause me to escape,” referring to a dash for freedom to be initiated by the person.  Sometimes, God opens the cage and lets the captive use their legs to walk out, or otherwise remain there and perish.  In this kind of deliverance, the subject or the person has a part to play in the eventual outcome.  For example, when the angel opened the iron gates for Peter in Acts 12, it needed the man to get to his feet and walk out of the prison with his own legs.  God ‘caused’ him to escape.  

7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision (Acts 12;7-9).

First, at the angel’s bright appearance, the chains “fell off from his hands” (v.7) without Peter doing anything to untie himself from those chains.  It was something that the man couldn’t have done for himself.  That first deliverance from chains was entirely the initiative of God.  After that, the angel said to Peter, “Dress up, put on your shoes, follow me.”  In other words, “The next stage is up to you.  It is up to you to remain here or to walk out – now.”  Peter used his legs to follow the angel out.  There was, at that point, a combination of the first two modes of deliverance: deliverance by mercy – when the angelic presence knocked off the chains from Peter; and personal escape as Peter with his own legs followed the angel out of the prison.

Sometimes when God thus opens the cage, some people do not walk out and walk away, because they are mindful of what people would say, or they want the more spectacular ‘miracle’ of an angel flying down from heaven in sight of everyone and carrying them off in a blaze of heavenly fireworks, so that they would not have to explain to anyone that it was not they but God that broke the cage to get them out.  For such timidity, and sometimes for the stupid and proud wish for an opportunity to give a ‘great testimony’ before admirers, some people have lost precious opportunities, and lost lives too.  God will not take you where He has given you legs to take yourself.

An angel said to Joseph in the night, “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and FLEE…” (Matthew 2:13).  If Joseph had waited until morning, because the ‘notice was too short,’ or if he lingered because he expected a more remarkable intervention since, after all, he had the Son of God in his hands, he and his household might have become sitting ducks for Herod by morning.

What if Peter didn’t walk out when the iron gates opened to him?  Herod would have come for him by morning and forced him back into the prison, or even expedited his execution, while the Church continued to pray for his deliverance from that cage.

Very advisedly, we hear in Psalm 124:7:

We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free! (The New Living Translation).

The King James version says, “Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.”  In other words, it is one thing for God to break the snare or net or trap of the trapper, it is another for the person thereafter to escape with their legs.  God will break the snare, but He will not also do the escape for whom He has given legs to flee.  Some have wasted their deliverance because they did not use their legs after God had broken their snare.

In Acts 12 when Peter had met the praying people, he announced his escape from Herod’s prison then took off quickly to a secret location that the Bible does not mention (Acts 12:17).  Powerful Papa Pastor Peter did not stay back to pray with the people that night.  There would be many more prayers some other time.  He escaped.  He did not need an angel then to tell him what to do or where to go.  He fled, with his anointed legs.  It is suicidal stupidity to expect God to save you in His righteousness when He has opened the cage for you to flee with your strong legs.

  1. Divine Response 

This refers to deliverance that is in response to prayers.  Many times in the Psalms, we come upon petitions requesting the quick intervention of God, or announcing His rescue in response to prayers.

I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).

In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me (Psalm 120:1)

In Acts 12:5, the Church prayed and God inclined His ears to their prayers and sent an angel to get Peter out, and Peter followed the angel out with his legs.  The implication is that, sometimes, complete deliverance might involve a combination of any two or all three of the modes of intervention.

You cannot tell how help will come, but like the Psalmist, at least, you can cry out for help, then watch out.  If He sends an angel to get you out, fine. Sail away.  But if He should open the cage for you to use your legs, flee-eee.  To wait for a spectacular merciful rescue when the Lord has opened the doors for you to escape with your legs is suicidal stupidity.  To shut your lips from crying for help in the vain hope that God will save whom He will, when and how He will, whether they cry or not, is tragic spiritual laziness.  You never can tell, but the mighty ‘sword of the Lord’ that you seek, to cut down the dreaded Goliath, could be the simple sling and stone in your little faithful hands.  Amen.

From The Preacher’s diary,
October 4, 2023. 

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