ESCAPED/DELIVERED/RESCUED: malat. verb. (Strong’s 4422)
Malat is one of those Hebrew words, among many, that carry a wide array of translations. It is transcribed as escaped, delivered, saved and rescued. The idea is, when you escape from a terrible predicament, you are rescued from it. To be delivered is to be rescued and saved from a bad situation. All four English words are connected and the Hebrew word, malat, draws them all together. Malat is a key concept of the Bible. God will save us! So it’s not surprising that there are other words in Hebrew that carry this concept, such as palat (6403), natsal/netsal (5337, 5338), and yesha/yasha (3467, 3468). Today we will focus primarily on the Bible’s use of malat.
This week the nation of Israel will observe Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, a national day of remembrance.
I recently re-watched the film, The Hiding Place, which is based on the biographic book by Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of the women’s concentration camp, Ravensbruck. Corrie knew what it was like to be rescued from the pit of hell on earth. She escaped only by a clerical error and was delivered from evil to become one of YHWH’s most loyal feet on the ground. She shared her story and her love for YHWH across the globe and she challenged people’s understanding of forgiveness. Corrie always emphasised YHWH’s loyal love which He offers freely to all His children.
Corrie ten Boom knew what she was talking about when she said, “We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world and the spiritual agents are from the very headquarters of evil.“
Corrie saw evil first hand, and she understood the Biblical message. There were unseen and malevolent powers that were (and are) doing a very fine job elevating death and destruction in this world. In the Bible, the idea of escape, deliverance and rescue was almost always used in response to the forces of evil.
The first time the word malat was used in the Hebrew Bible was in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel noted that Sodom was to be destroyed by God because they were, “arrogant, overfed, and complacent; and they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)
Before the destruction of the two cities, YHWH sent two angels to rescue Lot and his family. The angels said to them:
“Escape [hi-malet] for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the surrounding area; escape [hi-malet] to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”
But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords! Now behold, your servant has found favour in your sight, and you have magnified your compassion, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape [l-hi-malet] to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape [ee-mal’tah] there (is it not small?) so that my life may be saved.”
And he [the angel] said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, escape [hi-malet] there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the town was named Zoar.
Lot and his daughters escaped. Lot’s wife, however, ignored the words of the angels and looked behind her. She did not heed the warning and, as a result, she was not rescued.
This first story of malat set the precedent of its meaning. Escaping destruction and death was at the root of the word.
In the Bible, people frequently escaped from their enemies:
- The Israelite Judge, Ehud, escaped the Moabites, but the Moabites were unable to escape Ehud’s judgement and the Israelite army (Judges 3:26 & Judges 3:29)
- David repeatedly escaped from Saul (1 Samuel 19:9-18, 1 Samuel 23:13, 1 Samuel 27:1)
- Bathsheba and her son Solomon were rescued from the evil plans of Adonijah, a usurper king (1 Kings 1:11-14)
- Esther, with encouragement from her Uncle Mordecai, would rescue her people from destruction in the Persian Empire (Esther 4:13-14)
Rescue from Evil
But the greater rescue was not from human enemies, but from the Prime Enemy, YHWH’s Adversary, ha-Satan, the Master of Death.
In the Book of Job, ha-Satan (the Adversary) challenged God by testing one of His children. He accused Job of being faithful to God only because his life was easy and good. If goodness was stripped from Job’s life, certainly he would curse God. YHWH knew that Job had a righteous heart, so He allowed the Adversary to put Job to the test.
As a result, Job went through the depths of despair and was faced with grief and sorrow beyond comprehension.
Now on the day when his [Job’s] sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the female donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped [wa-imal’tah] to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped [wa-imal’tah] to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three units and made a raid on the camels and took them, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped [wa-imal’tah] to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped [wa-imal’tah] to tell you.”
Then Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head; then he fell to the ground and worshiped.
The servants escaped death only to bring the news of destruction to Job. Although the story was a devastating one for Job, it really was a story of rescue and deliverance.
Job 19:19-20, 25-26
[Job:] “All my associates loathe me, and those I love have turned against me.
My bone clings to my skin and my flesh, and I have escaped [wa-et mal’tah] only by the skin of my teeth…
…Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, He will take His stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I will see God.”
It was a narrow gap, but Job escaped ha-Satan’s grasp.
What saved Job? Remember what led to Sodom’s destruction? Ezekiel pointed out Sodom’s downfall was because the city did not help the poor and needy. Job would not make the same mistake:
[Job:] “For when an ear heard, it called me blessed, and when an eye saw, it testified in support of me, because I delivered [ah-malet] the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper.”
Job was delivered partly because he carried salvation forward. He rescued others because he, himself, knew that he was rescued by His Redeemer, the God of Life.
[David:] Blessed is one who considers the helpless; YHWH will rescue him [y-mal’tehu] on a day of trouble.
YHWH will protect him and keep him alive, and he will be called blessed upon the earth; and will not turn him over to the desire of his enemies.
In the end Job was rewarded for his suffering. YHWH blessed him with a double portion of what he had had before the tragedy.
Job was delivered from the direct clutches of ha-Satan. Being grasped by the Adversary meant one thing… death and the destruction of your soul. Only YHWH, the great God of Creation could save them from death.
The Psalms repeat this them of rescue from death multiple times:
Psalm 33:16-20 (see also Amos 2:13-16)
The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not rescued by great strength.
A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it rescue [lo y-malet] anyone by its great strength.
Behold, the eye of YHWH is on those who fear Him, on those who wait for His faithfulness, to rescue their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for YHWH; He is our help and our shield.
[Ethan the Ezrahite:] How long, YHWH? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire?
Remember what my lifespan is; for what futility You have created all the sons of mankind!
What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver: [y-malet] his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah
Fools, because of their rebellious way, and because of their guilty deeds, were afflicted. Their souls loathed all kinds of food, and they came close to the gates of death.
Then they cried out to YHWH in their trouble; He saved them from their distresses.
He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them [wi-malet] from their destruction.
They shall give thanks to YHWH for His mercy, and for His wonders to the sons of mankind!
They shall also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing.
I love YHWH, because He hears my voice and my pleas.
Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of YHWH:
“Please, YHWH, rescue my soul! [mal’tah naphshi!]”
Gracious is YHWH, and righteous; yes, our God is compassionate.
YHWH watches over the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for YHWH has dealt generously with you.
For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before YHWH in the land of the living.
This repetitive theme brings home the point: the ultimate rescue was rescue from death.
Only YHWH, the Creator of the Universe, coulde deliver the human soul from death. He alone had authority over human mortality. He has given humanity a choice: follow me and find everlasting live, or follow evil into an everlasting death. Those who practiced evil could not rescue themselves from it:
No one has authority over the wind to restrain the wind, nor authority over the day of death; and there is no military discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver [y-malet] those who practice it.
I Will Deliver You!
Each Old Testament divine rescue was a foreshadowing of the greater rescue to be revealed.
When Israel fell into the hands of Babylon, the great oppressor, YHWH promised to, wholeheartedly, rescue them:
[YHWH:] “For I will assuredly rescue you [rescue rescue you: malet a-malet’ka], and you will not fall by the sword; but you will have your own life as plunder, because you have trusted in Me,” declares YHWH.
This doubling of the word malet a-malet-ka was used for dramatic emphasis. God wouldn’t just rescue them; he would rescue-rescue them,.. or super-rescue them. The translation of assuredly rescue gives the impression of a thorough deliverance but lacks the momentousness and dramatic emphasis.
The Prophet Isaiah emphasised that YHWH had dominion over every situation:
“Can the prey be taken from a mighty man, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued [yi-malet]?” Indeed, this is what YHWH says:
“Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, and the prey of a tyrant will be rescued [yi-malet]; for I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your sons.
I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, and they will become drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine; and humanity will know that I, YHWH, am your Saviour and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Defeating the wicked was an easy task for God. They fell into their own traps… they swallowed up their violence and succumbed to their own destruction.
Those who turned away from YHWH and followed after foreign idols were burdened with a heavy weight:
Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over; their idols have become loads for the animals and the cattle. The things that you carry are burdensome, a load for the weary animal.
They stooped over, they have bowed down together; they could not escape [malet] the burden, but have themselves gone into captivity.
Listen to Me, house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, you who have been carried by Me from birth and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will carry you!
I have done it, and I will bear you; and I will carry you and I will deliver you [wa-a-malet].
Once we hold out our hand to YHWH He will never let go. He wants to carry us; He wants to deliver us to the home awaiting in Heaven.
Daniel was one of the many Jewish sons of God to be dragged out of Israel and sent into Babylon as an exile. Daniel’s tragic life was undoubtedly challenging, but he was blessed with visions from God about the end of humanity’s story. In his end times vision, Daniel saw YHWH’s great and final deliverance:
“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued [yi-malet]. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. And those who have insight will shine like the glow of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
Our souls have escaped [ni-m’l’tah] like a bird from the trapper’s snare; the snare is broken and we have escaped [ni-m’lat’nu].
Our help is in the name of YHWH, who made heaven and earth.
Yeshua, our Deliverer
In one of his letters, Paul would humbly and facetiously say: What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue [Greek: rhysetai] me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24)
Paul already knew the answer. The Messiah would defeat death and land a devastating blow to the Adversary, who had considered himself to be the Master of Death. That was no longer the case; Yeshua mastered death and broke the chains which held humanity in the grave. Ha-Satan had lost his title and his claim over death. He wasn’t defeated, but he was wounded.
Yeshua’s birth as a human made the miracle even more profound. He humbled His divine existence and yet He was still able to beat the Adversary at his own game.
Yeshua’s birth was preceded by his cousin, John the Baptiser. At John’s birth his father, Zechariah, sang a song of rejoicing:
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David— just as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times—
Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy to our fathers, ad to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued [Greek: rhysthentas] from the hand of our enemies, would serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
And you, child, also will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The Messiah would shine a light in the dark places and illuminate the path for those willing to follow him. He would become the death-destroyer and the rescuer and redeemer of humanity.
During His ministry Yeshua taught His disciples a prayer, which we have titled The Lord’s Prayer. In it He said the following line:
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver [Greek: rhysai] us from the evil one.’
This was Yeshua’s mission on earth: He would deliver us from God’s Adversary and the death and destruction that followed him everywhere he went.
The Cross: the Epicentre of Deliverance
Ha-Satan must have thought he had the victory when Yeshua went to the cross. He was the great Master of Death and Yeshua had succumbed to his deadly domain. He must have enjoyed the scene when so many of Yeshua’s own people had turned on Him:
“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: rysastho] Him now, if He takes pleasure in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
God would not rescue His beloved Son. It was the only way to defeat death. To rise from death you had to die. He couldn’t conquer death without first succumbing to it. The only way to save humanity was to die for them, on their behalf. He had to face the Evil One, the self-proclaimed Master of Death, and claim dominion over The Adversary’s kingdom of death. It was subtle and revolutionary warfare, and ha-Satan did not see it coming.
Paul understood the magnitude of what Yeshua accomplished on the cross:
For He 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.
We constantly face trials and devastations in our lives, but YHWH is with us and our reward awaits us at the end of our days. We have a place in the Kingdom and Yeshua paid our entrance fee!
Paul held firmly onto God’s promise of eternal rescue:
2 Timothy 4:16-18
At my first defence no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued [Greek: errysthen] out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue [Greek: rhysetai] me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Corrie ten Boom, understood what being rescued was all about. She survived the holocaust, but not before seeing her sister Betsie succumb to its murderous intentions. Being rescued does not shelter us from the evil of this world, but it can allow us to survive in it with hope. Corrie famously said, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”
There’s an escape route from the hell you are living in. As children of God, evil may take us down, but it cannot defeat us. We are rescued from death and we have a room waiting for us in God’s Kingdom. Our ending has a deliverance… and a good one. Just call out to God and hold out your hand. He will grab hold of you and not let go, because the work has been done. You are rescued and redeemed!
Next week: Clouds