Sounds like: pah’laht/ fah’laht
If we break down the Bible to its simplest elements, it’s all about a great rescue… a deliverance from evil and death. There was a constant call for rescue from the wicked of the earth:
Rescue [fal’tu] the weak and needy; save them from the hand of the wicked.
On a grander scale there was a call to be rescued from the great Adversary, the primary evil of this world. Even in the prayer which Yeshua taught His disciples, there was a call for deliverance:
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver [Greek: rhysai] us from the evil one.’
How did this evil get so strong, that we would need to be delivered from it?
This was the great plot of the human story: Humans walked with God in the Garden, but then they were tempted by God’s Adversary and decided to become little gods of their own making. They consumed poison (fruit that their body was not meant to ingest) which led to destruction. Their greed for power put them onto a one way path to death.
God warned them not to eat the fruit, but tempted by desire, they did it anyway. So humans, by their own actions, could not stay in the Garden with God. They marched out of Eden and into the wilderness… a land of chaos and death.
Although they had to go, God would not abandon them. Following the creation story, the Bible became an epic adventure of humanity in which YHWH repeatedly promised to deliver them from evil and bring them back to Him:
[YHWH:] “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Deliverance from Egypt
God promised deliverance. Death would be conquered and we’d find our way back to God in the Garden. But the road to that final deliverance was a long winding trail and many enemies would come and go in the meantime.
Egypt, of course, was the first of the big evil dynasties that tried to crush the Hebrew people.
The well known story of Joseph, his colourful coat, and his betraying brothers outlined God’s plan for deliverance.
Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers, but he built his reputation up from the bottom and eventually became one of Egypt’s top officials. Years after their betrayal, Joseph’s brothers headed to Egypt, searching for assistance during the great famine. Unbeknownst to them they found themselves in the presence of their distinguished brother Joseph:
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold to Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to save lives. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. So God sent me ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance [li-f’letah g’dolah].
God had a plan to save. Joseph’s story, which started in tragedy and ended in triumph, was part of the plan. What happened to Joseph ensured a remnant of the Hebrew people would be protected.
After that, the Hebrew people grew in number in Egypt and eventually, out of fear, the Pharaoh turned them into slaves. YHWH used Moses to be a rescuer for the people. H worked through Moses to set the Hebrw people free from slavery. The Passover, which marked YHWH’s great rescue, would become a continual memorial celebration to this day.
Moses’ story and Joseph’s story promised and foreshadowed a great future deliverance, but not all rescues were so grand. Centuries later, when Judah was attacked by Shishak, pharaoh of Egypt, God offered a little deliverance:
2 Chronicles 12:5-8
Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the princes of Judah who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and he said to them, “This is what YHWH says: ‘You have abandoned Me, so I also have abandoned you to Shishak.’”
So the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “YHWH is righteous.”
When YHWH saw that they had humbled themselves, the word of YHWH came to Shemaiah, saying, “They have humbled themselves, so I will not destroy them; and I will grant them a little deliverance [ki-m’at li-f’letah], and My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak. But they will become his slaves, so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.”
YHWH’s deliverance matched their faith. Their reliance on YHWH was wavering but it was still there, and so God gave them a little deliverance. They were saved from annihilation, but not saved from servitude. Although they had escaped Egypt by the Red Sea, under the leadership of Moses, they would once again be slaves to Egypt because of their insolence towards their Creator.
Deliverance from Assyria
Assyria was the Hebrew nation’s great threat in the 8th century BC. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, destroyed and scattered the people of the North and then came South and threatened Judah. But YHWH cared for the future remnant of Israel, and He stopped Assyria from damaging Jerusalem and eradicating the tribe of Judah (the tribe from which the Messiah would descend):
Isaiah 37:31-35 (see also 2 Kings 19:29-31)
“The survivors [p’letat] that are left of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem a remnant will go, and out of Mount Zion survivors [u-f’letah]. The zeal of YHWH of armies will perform this.”’
“Therefore, this is what YHWH says about the king of Assyria: ‘He will not come to this city nor shoot an arrow there; and he will not come before it with a shield, nor heap up an assault ramp against it. By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he will not come to this city,’ declares YHWH. ‘For I will protect this city to save it for My own sake, and for My servant David’s sake.’”
Following God’s promise of protection, 185,000 Assyrian soldiers died in their camp and Sennacherib returned to Assyria utterly defeated. Upon his return he settled in Ninevah where he was murdered by his own two sons.
This miraculous rescue would undoubtedly have had an incredible impact on the Hebrew people. If they were hesitant at all about YHWH’s power, their doubts were washed away and they would have put their full allegiance and reliance on YHWH.
The prophet Isaiah lived during the time of the Assyrian invasion of the North and their subsequent attempted attack on Jerusalem. He recognized that YHWH preformed the miracle of deliverance to ensure reliance on His redemptive hand:
Now on that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped [been delivered: u-f’letat], will no longer rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on YHWH, the Holy One of Israel.
Babylon: the Destroyer
Although YHWH’s enemies were many, it was Babylon who rose up to epitomize chaos, power, greed, destruction and death (everything humans needed to be rescued from). And so Babylon often stood in as the great enemy from whom YHWH would deliver. All who turned to YHWH, trusted in Him and put their allegiance with Him, would be rescued from Babylon, real and metaphorical.
The writings of the prophets were top heavy with Babylon warnings from Jeremiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk and Daniel. They lived and prophesied during the Babylonian threat, invasion, and dominance, and proportionally they have a significant footprint in the Bible.
In real time, Babylon was represented as a formidable and devastating foe. Centuries later, long after the dynasty had fallen, Babylon remained as the metaphorical stand-in as all things anti-YHWH. Yeshua’s (Jesus’) disciple John wrote out His great prophetic vision and it included images of Babyon as the great enemy:
Revelation 18:2-3, 9-10, 21
And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality…”
…“And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’
…Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.”
John, who witnessed Yeshua’s death, knew He did not die in vain. Yeshua paved the way so that we could enter freely into the presence of God, but the story did not end there. There was still evil in the world to be dealt with, and so John wrote of the victorious ending to the human story. Babylon (which represented all evil) would not win. YHWH would be victorious and He would bring us home, back into the Garden to walk alongside Him (Revelation 22:1-5).
If we return to the threat of Babylon in the mid-500’s BC, we come to understand why their legacy had such a long-lasting impact. Jerusalem was struck at its prime and utterly destroyed. They destroyed YHWH’s Temple, demolished the city, and dragged its occupants away.
To say this was a devastating blow for the Hebrew people would be a massive understatement. Babylon tried to annihilate their culture. They lost their home and their Temple; their religion, language, and cultural identity were at risk of extinction. Cultural genocide was the goal of Babylon.
Understandably the people wanted justice and hoped that Babylon would not be delivered from God’s vengeance:
The voice of those who flee and escape [u-f’letim] from the land of Babylon declares in Zion the vengeance of YHWH our God, vengeance for His temple.
Summon many against Babylon, all those who bend the bow: encamp against her on every side, let there be no escape [p’letah].
Repay her according to her work; according to all that she has done, so do to her; for she [Babylon] has become arrogant against YHWH, against the Holy One of Israel.
There was a recognition that Babylon would fall under God’s power, but until then they were to remember YHWH and remember the land from which they came:
Indeed, Babylon is to fall for the slain of Israel, as the slain of all the earth have also fallen for Babylon.
You who have escaped [f’letim] the sword, go! Do not stay!
Remember YHWH from far away, and let Jerusalem come to your mind.
The people had fallen under the dominance of Babylon because they, themselves, had turned away from God. They turned to foreign gods and worshipped at their temples and sacrificed their children to fires dedicated to pagan gods. It was abominable behaviour and God would not stand by idly and watch. He was swift in judgement and allowed the apostate Jews to be overtaken by the nations whose pagan gods the Jews had turned to. If they put their trust in Babylonian gods, then Babylonian they would become.
But YHWH would not destroy His people, just as He promised He would save a remnant:
[YHWH:] “However, I will leave a remnant, in that you will have those who escaped [p’litey] the sword among the nations when you are scattered among the countries. Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations to which they will be taken captive, how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me, and by their eyes which committed infidelity with their idols; and they will loathe themselves in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations. Then they will know that I am YHWH; I have not said in vain that I would inflict this disaster on them.”’
Not everyone was saved from enemies during their time on earth. There was still suffering and great loss, including the loss of lives. But YHWH promised that there would be a remnant that would hang on.
For this is what the Lord YHWH says: “How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, vicious animals, and plague to eliminate human and animal life from it! Yet, behold, survivors [p’letah] will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come out to you, and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the disaster which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it. Then they will comfort you when you see their conduct and actions, for you will know that I have not done without reason whatever I did to it,” declares the Lord YHWH.
The Jewish family would never be completely annihilated because God chose that family to bring forward the Messiah. YHWH would save a remnant, and the descendants of David would usher in the Anointed One who would save the people.
The Great Deliverance
It is not surprising that a culture always under threat of war would seek a triumphant ending. The prophet Joel, who lived long before Babylon was a serious threat saw a great day, the Day of YHWH, where God would triumph and the beautiful ending of humanity would live on in the Spirit of YHWH:
[YHWH:] And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
Even on My menservants and maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and awesome Day of YHWH.
And everyone who calls on the name of YHWH will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance [f’letah], as YHWH has promised, among the remnant called by YHWH.
There would be a beautiful ending of victory, but it was not ours to fight. Obadiah warned the people that the Day of YHWH was not just for the Hebrew nation, it would be for all nations who turned to YHWH. The Hebrew people were never to eliminate their surviving enemies because God had a plan to rescue everyone who called on Him:
“Do not stand at the crossroads to eliminate their survivors [et p’litah]; and do not hand over their refugees on the day of their distress.
For the day of YHWH is near for all the nations. Just as you have done, it will be done to you.”
Yeshua put it this way:
[Jesus:] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.”
This cosmic battle was not ours to fight. ‘Vengeance is mine’, says YHWH (Deuteronomy 32:35). Our lives have always been in YHWH’s hands, and He preserves us for a greater purpose. Our battle is to win hearts, not bash heads.
David: Deliver Me!
Although the Bible gives us this great sweeping epic story of deliverance, we, as individuals, also suffer in our own mini-disasters… and for each crisis we face, we are to call out to God to be rescued:
Vindicate me, God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; save me [deliver me: t-fal’teni] from the deceitful and unjust person!
King David suffered greatly in His life. He was continually hunted by enemies, including his own family, but through it all he turned to YHWH:
Psalm 18:1-3, 43-50 (see also 2 Samuel 22:1-4, 44-47)
[David:] “I love You, YHWH, my strength. YHWH is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer [u-m-fal’ti], my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon YHWH, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies…
…You have rescued me [delivered me: t-fal’teni] from the contentions of the people; You have placed me as head of the nations; a people whom I have not known serve me.
As soon as they hear, they obey me; foreigners pretend to obey me. Foreigners lose heart, and come trembling out of their fortresses.
YHWH lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation, the God who executes vengeance for me, and subdues peoples under me.
He rescues me [delivers me: m-fal’ti] from my enemies; You indeed lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from a violent man.
Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, YHWH, and I will sing praises to Your name. He gives great salvation to His king, and shows faithfulness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.”
Arguably deliverance was the major theme for the Psalms attributed to David:
[David:] May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation continually say, “YHWH be exalted!”
But I am afflicted and needy; may the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my Deliverer [etz’rati u-m-fal’ti]; do not delay, my God.
[David:] Observe the blameless person, and look at the upright; for the person of peace will have a future. But wrongdoers will altogether be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be eliminated.
But the salvation of the righteous is from YHWH; He is their strength in time of trouble. YHWH helps them and rescues them [wai-fal’tem]; He rescues them [y-fal’tem] from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.
[David, when the Philistines seized him:] In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me? All day long they distort my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They attack, they lurk, they watch my steps, as they have waited to take my life. Because of their wickedness, will there be an escape [palet] for them? In anger make the peoples fall down, God!
You have taken account of my miseries; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?
Then my enemies will turn back on the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in YHWH, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can mankind do to me?
[David:] In You, YHWH, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed; in Your righteousness deliver me [fal’teni].
Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress; for your names’s sake You will lead me and guide me. You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, YHWH, God of truth.
It was this Psalm (Psalm 31) that Yeshua quoted while He suffered on the cross:
And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” And having said this, He died.
These were the words of His ancestor David, who sought deliverance, and Yeshua the Messiah, from the line of David, fittingly chose to utter these words with His last breath.
Deliverance from Death, by Death
Psalm 22 was another poem that focused on deliverance and was attributed to David. Yeshua also quoted it as He hung on the cross:
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my help are the words of my groaning.
My God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest.
Yet You are holy, You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them [wa-t-fal’tenow]. To You they cried out and they fled to safety; in You they trusted and were not disappointed.
Psalm 22 was quoted by Yeshua on the cross: My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46), and the following words in the Psalm played out like a script during Yeshua’s crucifixion.
But I am a worm and not a person, a disgrace of mankind and despised by the people. All who see me deride me; they sneer, they shake their heads, saying, “Turn him over to YHWH; let Him save him [deliver him: y-fal’tehu]; let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”
The chief priests who mocked Yeshua on the cross also quoted a portion of Psalm 22 (let God deliver/rescue Him), but they did not recognize themselves in the passage:
In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself! He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He has trusted in God; let God rescue [Greek: rhysastho] Him now, if He takes pleasure in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
Yeshua knew He could not save Himself, not because He was not able, but because He had to fulfill His mission. He knew why He had to be forsaken by God. He had to bear the full weight of sin on His own. Yeshua’s response to chief priest’s derision was to point out their hypocrisy. His mission was to save, and their mission was to destroy. Yeshua was to bring the Great Deliverance and it was only by His death that this could be accomplished.
Yeshua would die, and go to the grave, but He would not stay there. He would defeat death and rise above it… so that everyone who followed Him could do the same thing: live beyond their life on earth and come back into the Presence of YHWH.
Paul certainly preached God’s great deliverance from death into life:
2 Corinthians 1:9-10
Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead, who rescued [Greek: errysato] us from so great a danger of death, and will rescue [Greek: rhysetai] us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver [Greek: rhysetai] us!
Yeshua, often referred to as the Branch of YHWH, was the great deliverer of life over death. He was what YHWH had promised from the beginning:
On that day the Branch of YHWH will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the beauty of the survivors [li-f’letat] of Israel.
The Hebrew people suffered for centuries in order to bring forth David’s descendant, the Anointed One of YHWH. This one family was chosen by YHWH to usher in the Messiah’s birth. Over and over they were under the rescuing hand of YHWH, so that one day all nations could be saved by Him.
Yeshua was the redeemer, the rescuer, the light that shone in the darkness, and the bringer of the Kingdom to every nation on the planet:
For He [YHWH] rescued [Greek: errysato] us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
King David, the ancestor of Yeshua, whose focus was always on YHWH’s deliverance from evil, put it best:
You [YHWH] are my hiding place; You keep me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance [ranney falet]. Selah
Whatever your circumstances, good or bad, God has a plan to rescue you. We may wander in darkness and feel the arrows of the enemy, but it will not be forever. YHWH has work for you here, but one day He will bring you home, and it will be glorious! Until then, I implore you to read the wonderful Word that God has given us. Dive into those Psalms of Deliverance; may they revive you with hope and joy as we wait for our reunion with God our Deliverer!
Next week: FAT