The Great Escape

There was no time in the history of mankind when God was not mindful of His people. He had told Adam and Eve that if they ate from the tree of knowledge, they would surely die. But when they did eat, they did not die immediately. God graciously gave them time to repent and seek His forgiveness. When men began to multiply, grieved over man’s wickedness, God wanted to wipe His entire creation (Gen 6:7). Yet, one single individual, Noah, found grace in His eyes. When Noah’s descendants turned to idolatry, God chose Abraham and brought him to the Promised Land. When Abraham’s descendants became slaves in Egypt, God was burdened to bring them out of bondage. But their wickedness in the wilderness journey prompted God to destroy them. Yet He subdued His anger and let just two men of the original stock, Joshua and Caleb to enter Canaan. He preserved a remnant who feared Him, throughout.

God gave His people the Ten Commandments and warned them not to learn the ways of the pagans. Yet in a short while they were falling before sticks and stones to worship them. After the golden era of King David, the mighty Israel Kingdom started crumbling down bit by bit as punishment for their idolatry. Enemies invaded their land. They were defeated by Assyria and carried away captive. Hezekiah was ruling in Judah then. When the Assyrians came to Jerusalem, Hezekiah sent word to Isaiah to pray for the remnant that still survived (Isa 37:4).

Then Isaiah gave a sign to Hezekiah saying: "The remnant which has ESCAPED of the house of Judah shall take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant and those who ESCAPE from Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this" (2 Ki 19:30, 31; Isa 37:31,32 - NIV says ‘survivors’ in the place of ‘those who escape’). All were not fortunate to escape the sword of their captivators. A small number survived.

Even today very few are those who escape the onslaught of the enemy. When God’s judgment fell on Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent His angels to deliver Lot and his family. The angels told him to ESCAPE and save their lives, to ESCAPE to the mountains lest they be swept away in the sweeping disaster of Sodom and Gomorrah. While Abraham and Sarah left a wicked city to a land of blessing, Lot and his wife left a land of blessing to a wicked city. For them the outward appearance was attractive and promising for a prosperous life. They didn’t think of the bad infl uence from the wicked people of that city. Only after moving in there, Lot was constantly tormented by the moral rot that surrounded him. His wife and daughters picked up the bad culture of the place. Even Lot was infl uenced. Can you imagine the righteous Lot off ering to give his unmarried daughters to perverts? (Gen19: 8).

However God had mercy on the family and two angels guided them to escape. Lot’s wife lagged behind so she could have one last look at all her collection, without anyone noticing her. Alas! She became a pillar of salt. Jesus has warned us to "Remember Lot’s wife." The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building till God burnt down everything. Jesus said, "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the fi eld should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife!" (Lk 17: 28-32). Jesus was warning us not to have our mind in our possessions like Lot’s wife and look back. Even though God was gracious enough to provide a way of escape for the family, Lot’s wife did not make it. We are all in for rough times. When the Corona ambulance comes to take us to the hospital, will we look back?

"A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. Though your people, O Israel, will be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous" (Isa 10:21,22). Do you see yourself here? Christians are numerous. They are called by the name of Christ. They call Him, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do what He says (Lk 6:46). Let us take God’s word seriously or else we will not escape the coming disaster. Let us escape to the mountains, to higher grounds. Our moral standard must be much higher than that of the ‘Christian Community’. "I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:20). Love for God means obeying Him.

When the walls of Jericho collapsed, one portion stood its ground, and that was the portion where Rahab’s house was (Josh 2:15) and the scarlet rope was hanging from there. That was the fi rst miracle God did for her. Though the whole of Jericho was destroyed, Rahab escaped with her family. She decided to leave her idols and sinful life and turn to the Living God.

When tempted, Joseph ran out of the house and escaped the onslaught of satan. We have many examples in the Bible to encourage us to run away from even what "appears" to be evil so that we will join the remnant. The majority are slaughtered mercilessly by the devil. Will you be one of the few escapees? "No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior ESCAPES by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them..." (Psalm 33:16-18). We cannot save ourselves. Unless the Lord of Hosts has left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have become like Gomorrah (Isa 1:9). Rightly did Ezra acknowledge the grace of God: "The Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a fi rm place in His sanctuary" (Ezra 9:8). So, as the psalmist says, let us fear God and set our hope in Him. Yes, the remnant who escaped shall return, but not of their own strength, but "the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this" (2 Ki 19:30,31).

When the remnant started trickling into Jerusalem to build the temple, satan was horrifi ed. But he had some tricks up his sleeve to hamstring them. But Ezra was not to be defeated by satan. How to preserve the remnant?

After the completion of the temple and the grand dedication ceremony, it came to the knowledge of Ezra that the people of Israel including the priests and the Levites, did not keep themselves away from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices. They had intermingled with them through marriage. What was Ezra’s reaction on hearing this? He tore his tunic and cloak, pulled hair from his head and beard and slumped to the ground, appalled. Only by evening he arose. He fell on his knees and prayed. He wept, confessing the sins of the people and said, "Oh Lord, God of Israel, You are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before You in our guilt, though because of it no one of us can stand in Your presence" (Ezra 9:14,15). Ezra was angry at sin and reacted violently. He warned God’s people that sin could once again lead God to destroy them all. God had been merciful before when they sinned, because they survived as a remnant. But they should not presume upon His grace but repent and make some heart-breaking decisions.

What was the result? "While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites - men, women and children - They too wept bitterly" (10:1). They were stabbed by guilt. This was followed by confession of sin and setting right matters.

How did Nehemiah react to sin? He rebuked those who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. He called curses down on them. He beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. He made them take an oath in God’s name (Neh 13:23-27). It was a battle cry against sin and the message was loud and clear.

Centuries later in the same place Jesus made a whip and drove out traders. If Jesus had requested "Please go out, this is a holy place," do you think they would have complied? Jesus was angry at sin just like Ezra and Nehemiah. Even God was enraged with the Israelites when they went after idols and expressed His anger in red hot language. When you don’t fi ght against evil, you encourage it.

Do you see today this kind of an anger and reaction to sin? All we hear is, "We’ll forgive you 7x70 times. Don’t worry, your future sins are also forgiven. "Good motivation for a sinner to repent, eh? People don’t worry about their conscience anymore. People do not feel guilty anymore. What in the world will restrain sin? What’s going to motivate people to obey God? Let’s not be afraid to show our anger at sin. We sing, "Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved." Before grace can relieve fear of punishment, it teaches our hearts to fear sin. Christians have not realized the seriousness of sin. They will do in hell, when it will be too late to do anything about it. The prophets of doom were angry with the sin of people. That’s why a remnant escaped.

Think of all the abused people - the poor who are robbed, the relatives of victims who were murdered, the victims of domestic violence... Don’t they need justice? You tell them to forgive 7×70 times? That is injustice. They are not rubber dolls to meekly shake their heads and say, ‘I forgive’. They have feelings, emotions, spirit that gets wounded, heart that aches, body that aches from the battering. So understand 7x70 in the proper context and hold the culprit answerable for his sin. Then the chances of more people escaping to become a remnant is possible. Don’t be like the false prophets who bandaged wounds without painfully squeezing the pus out fi rst.

"We have ESCAPED like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have ESCAPED" (Psalm 124:7). A snare is a device to cleverly trap us and is kept hidden from our eyes. It has something to attract us as a bait. So are the attractions the devil off ers us. They look harmless, they are exciting to experience and often promise quick recovery. ‘Only this once and no more,’ we think, but our feet are caught. How do we escape? Easy. All you have to do is to keep yourself under the Almighty and trust in Him for deliverance. Then He shall surely deliver you from the snare of the fowler, who is the devil (Psalm 91:1-3).

How to keep ourselves under the Almighty? Come to 1 Corinthians 10. Of the vast army of people who started off from Egypt, only two reached Canaan. This is too small a remnant. Why were the others not able to make it? God was not pleased with "most" of them (v5). They forsook the Living God and made idols for themselves; they indulged in revelry; they sold themselves out to sexual immorality; they tested the Lord; they grumbled. We are surrounded by the same sins today also; but God assures us: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of ESCAPE, that you may be able to bear it" (v13). The author continues to say, "Therefore, my beloved, fl ee from idolatry" (v14). God needs our cooperation. He is faithful to limit our temptation and provide an escape door for us. Our responsibility is to fl ee from temptation.

"'I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven,’ declares the Lord. ‘Come O Zion! ESCAPE,...whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye’" (Zech 2: 6-8). For a brief moment He deserted us. We became slaves of the devil. But still we are the apple of His eye. He calls us to escape from our captivator, satan.

Paul writes to Timothy about opposers, who oppose the truth, who are unrepentant, who were trapped by the devil and taken as captives to do his will. They need to come to their senses and ESCAPE from the trap of the devil. God has to grant them repentance. We can only gently instruct them and hope for the best (2 Tim 2 : 25, 26).

How does one escape this awful trap? As long as we live in this world we will have evil desires. James says that one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. When we go along the path of this evil desire, it becomes sin which culminates in death (Js 1:14,15). Can this process be stopped somewhere, or is there no escape? Let’s see what Peter has to say about it. There is a way of escape. That is through the very great and precious promises that God has given us. When we read and re-read these promises and absorb them, our very nature starts changing and we participate in the divine nature. When we meditate on God and Jesus Christ our Lord, that very knowledge gives us everything we need for life and godliness. It is not of us, it is the divine power that gives us all these. That is how we ESCAPE the corrupt world (2 Pet 1:3,4).

The remnant who were left behind came to Jeremiah to pray for guidance. But when God told them to remain in Israel, the message disappointed them; for they felt if they fl ed to Egypt they would be secure (Jer 42). In fact they had already determined to go to Egypt and they hoped Jeremiah would prophesy likewise. But when it turned out to be otherwise, they refused to listen. So the majority of the remnant went to Egypt. Only a small percentage remained in the land, trusting the word of the Lord. Is this not what we do often? We rebel against the word of God and say, "We will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart" (Jer 18:12).

See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks (through the Bible). If they (Israelites) did not ESCAPE when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we ESCAPE if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? (Heb 12:25).

God is making a way for us. He will dry up rivers for the remnant to walk through. "The Lord will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea with a scorching wind. He will sweep His hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that people can cross over in sandals. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt" (Isa 11:15,16). Do not be afraid of the rivers in spate before you. You will walk through them. Walk the highway, head high, O remnant!

Now there is a fi nal hurdle for those who escape and come through. People who speak empty boastful words, seduce those who have recently ESCAPED from the passions of this world. Keep yourselves away from these dangerous corrupt people (2 Pet 2 :17-22). If you have made this fi nal escape, you will take root below and bear fruit above. "In that day the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is, left of His people" (Isa 11:11). Be encouraged! Who is a God like our God, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? He does not stay angry forever but delights to show mercy (Mic 7:18).

Here are some promises for you, if you have decided to faithfully stick on to God -

"Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, You whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and grey hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you; I will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you" (Isa 46:3,4).

"I Myself will gather the remnant of My fl ock out of all the countries where I have driven them and I will bring them back to the pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number" (Jer 23:3,4).

"This is what the Lord says : I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt in her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor and they will not be disdained" (Jer 30:18,19).

"The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid" (Zeph 3:13).

Let’s conclude with Paul’s statement about the remnant. Talking about God’s sovereign choice, he says that God chose to show the riches of His glory to us whom He chose out of His mercy. Then he quotes from Isaiah saying, "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out His sentence on earth with speed and fi nality" (Rom 9:23-29; Isa 10:22,23).

I believe His sentence has already started. What does this mean to us today? We may be thinking, "Only I am walking close to God; everybody else has gone astray." Wait! That’s what Elijah told God. But God told him that He had reserved for Himself seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. "So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace" (Rom 11:1-5).

Let us not bend our knee to the Baals of materialism and lust. Let us escape the corruption of this world and join the remnant!

 அனுதின அலங்காரம் (தமிழில்)

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  •   094 Ant and Worm
      Jun 01, 2016
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 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 2

  •   001 The Modern Prodigal
      Jul 11, 2013
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  •   002 Lower One Foot, Lord!
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  •   003 Beautiful Cheques
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 Little Stories For Little Hearts

  •   Introduction
      Jun 06, 2013
    Story Behind The Stories more...
  •   001. Is GOD For Real
      Jun 05, 2013
    There were two scientists. One was a believer in the true God and another was an aetheist more...
  •   002.The Language of Love!
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  •   019 - Mala the Great!
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Dec 1988 Dear Aunty, It?s been 2 months since we were in touch. I?m saturated with ?news? to give you and nearly bursting with curiosity to hear what?s been happening at your end. The last letter you wrote to me was an eye-opener. To more...
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      Jun 25, 2015
    On the day she arrived, she was at my doorstep! ?Hi aunty? ?Oh Mala, how are you?? She shook my hand so long and hard that it ached, and planted a kiss on my cheek - so unusual of her. ?Why didn?t you write aunty?? ?Oh, I knew you?d be coming soon. So more...
  •   021 - What to Do?
      Jun 25, 2015
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 Ministry

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 Women

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 Youth

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  •   A Teenagers Story
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  •   Why Not Wait ?
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 General

  Address for Correspondence Contributions

Dr. Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
 +91 9843511943
  lilianstanley@gmail.com

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 அனுதின அலங்காரம் (தமிழில்)

  •   April 9 Happy as a lark!
      Apr 09, 2021
    Oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness more...
  •   April 8 Charming Lady
      Apr 08, 2021
    Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised more...
  •   April 7 Spoil-sport
      Apr 07, 2021
    Love does no harm to a neighbour more...
  • Click here for more 

 Daily Devotional for Women (English)

  •   367. December 31 Golden Girl
      Dec 31, 2019
    Now the Golden Girl has climbed from her state, step by step, to the right hand of the King. She is now the bride and the queen. Let?s see the blessings of the right hand of God more...
  •   366. December 30 Golden Girl
      Dec 30, 2019
    The enemy has all the gold but God will give it to us more...
  •   365. December 29 Golden Girl
      Dec 29, 2019
    Your faith is costlier than gold more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 4

  •   051. Blessed Accident
      Feb 21, 2018
    A sailor wanted to go round the world in a boat and set up a record. Sadly, a storm lashed his boat and it broke to pieces. The sailor swam and reached a small uninhabited island. He ate wild fruits and roots and survived. He made a more...
  •   052. Offense
      Feb 21, 2018
    An elaborate feast was arranged for all the palace staff on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth?s birthday. It was a grand affair. The table was loaded with a variety of dishes. Everybody enjoyed the feast and sat down for dessert. In the meanwhile the table more...
  •   053. Great and Small
      Feb 21, 2018
    A small zero collided with a big zero. ?Don?t you have any sense? Don?t you know I am much bigger than you?? asked the big zero; ?You must be ashamed of yourself.? more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 3

  •   094 Ant and Worm
      Jun 01, 2016
    An ant was majestically walking along a forest. She saw a worm crawling. The ant told the worm: ?Look at me. I am so brisk and smart. You should be faster and dress up beautifully. You look ugly.? Despising the worm the ant moved along. more...
  •   095 Diligence Pays
      Jun 01, 2016
    Ragu was very jealous of the humble minister, Ra more...
  •   096 Poor Minister
      Jun 01, 2016
    A poor minister of God used to go to a rich businessman asking for contribution for the work he was doing in villages. The rich man would give excuses and ask hi more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories for Little Hearts Vol 2

  •   001 The Modern Prodigal
      Jul 11, 2013
    The Modern Prodigal more...
  •   002 Lower One Foot, Lord!
      Jul 11, 2013
    Lower One Foot, Lord! more...
  •   003 Beautiful Cheques
      Jul 11, 2013
    Beautiful Cheques more...
  • Click here for more 

 Little Stories For Little Hearts

  •   Introduction
      Jun 06, 2013
    Story Behind The Stories more...
  •   001. Is GOD For Real
      Jun 05, 2013
    There were two scientists. One was a believer in the true God and another was an aetheist more...
  •   002.The Language of Love!
      Jun 05, 2013
    A circus was running in town, and crowds elbowed each other to buy tickets. One day an unusual incident happened more...
  • Click here for more 

 Sweet Sixteen

  •   019 - Mala the Great!
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Dec 1988 Dear Aunty, It?s been 2 months since we were in touch. I?m saturated with ?news? to give you and nearly bursting with curiosity to hear what?s been happening at your end. The last letter you wrote to me was an eye-opener. To more...
  •   020 - The Rainbow
      Jun 25, 2015
    On the day she arrived, she was at my doorstep! ?Hi aunty? ?Oh Mala, how are you?? She shook my hand so long and hard that it ached, and planted a kiss on my cheek - so unusual of her. ?Why didn?t you write aunty?? ?Oh, I knew you?d be coming soon. So more...
  •   021 - What to Do?
      Jun 25, 2015
    7 Jan 1989 Dear Aunty, Christmas holidays were great fun. It was lovely getting in touch with friends and relatives. On New Year?s Day I gleaned thro? my diary- There was so much to thank God for! My friend Esther is in Rajasthan. She wrote asking for g more...
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 Family

  •   Creepers Without Support
      Sep 30, 2016
    Creepers Without Support The Bible mentions ?pure religion? only once. ?Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unspotted from the world? (Js 1:2 more...
  •   Mothers,Be Mothers!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Mothers,Be Mothers! In the first chapter of Proverbs we meet the dynamic personality called mother. She is presented not as a wobbly- footed weakling but as one who passes the law. Even inside the home she does not appear as a second class citizen, ra more...
  •   The Mother-in-laws Son!
      Sep 17, 2016
    Many a wife would introduce her mate as her mother-in-law?s son, rather than as her husband. Nearly 80% of Indian husbands continue to be (their mother?s) sons. According to a recent statistics, not less than 10% of suicides in India are due to the proble more...
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 Ministry

  •   I am a Missionary!
      Aug 14, 2018
    1. I am a missionary and so I work for God and not for an organisation. Though I am under the discipline of an organisation, whatever I do, I do with the fear of God. God is my Master and so I subject myself to the leaders. I quell any rebellious spirit t more...
  •   Sewer turned Sower!
      Mar 13, 2017
    To understand John chapter 4, we must first understand about the Samaritans. Samaria was between Judea and Galilee so much so any Jew travelling from Galilee to Judea or Judea to Galilee needed to go through it. Many Jews, because of the aversion they ha more...
  •   Afraid of Iron Chariots?
      Jun 29, 2016
    Afraid of Iron Chariots? more...
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 Women

  •   Golden Girl
      Aug 27, 2018
    As India basks in the glory of the golden girls who kissed their gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games, let us meditate upon the Golden Girl who glitters in the Scriptures. The Psalmist profiles her in his 45th Psalm: ?At Your right hand is the royal bride more...
  •   Sister Sodom
      Jan 16, 2017
    Sodom is always associated with wicked ''men''. But here God calls her as 'Sister Sodom!' more...
  •   Women,Leaven and Heaven!
      Sep 30, 2016
    Women,Leaven and Heaven! 'The Kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened ' ,said Jesus (Mt 13:33). more...
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 Youth

  •   Parties Gone Wild!
      Dec 27, 2020
    Parties Gone Wild! more...
  •   A Teenagers Story
      Oct 04, 2017
    In the Bible we read about many teenagers. One such is David. When we are introduced to him, he is probably fifteen or sixteen, trying his more...
  •   Why Not Wait ?
      Oct 21, 2016
    It was a whirlwind romance - all moon-beams and star dust; until one day in a moment of madness, they succumbed to each other?s charms. That was the last cruise of their love boat. The world seemed to crash around her when she fo more...
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 General

The Great Escape

There was no time in the history of mankind when God was not mindful of His people. He had told Adam and Eve that if they ate from the tree of knowledge, they would surely die. But when they did eat, they did not die immediately. God graciously gave them time to repent and seek His forgiveness. When men began to multiply, grieved over man’s wickedness, God wanted to wipe His entire creation (Gen 6:7). Yet, one single individual, Noah, found grace in His eyes. When Noah’s descendants turned to idolatry, God chose Abraham and brought him to the Promised Land. When Abraham’s descendants became slaves in Egypt, God was burdened to bring them out of bondage. But their wickedness in the wilderness journey prompted God to destroy them. Yet He subdued His anger and let just two men of the original stock, Joshua and Caleb to enter Canaan. He preserved a remnant who feared Him, throughout.

God gave His people the Ten Commandments and warned them not to learn the ways of the pagans. Yet in a short while they were falling before sticks and stones to worship them. After the golden era of King David, the mighty Israel Kingdom started crumbling down bit by bit as punishment for their idolatry. Enemies invaded their land. They were defeated by Assyria and carried away captive. Hezekiah was ruling in Judah then. When the Assyrians came to Jerusalem, Hezekiah sent word to Isaiah to pray for the remnant that still survived (Isa 37:4).

Then Isaiah gave a sign to Hezekiah saying: "The remnant which has ESCAPED of the house of Judah shall take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant and those who ESCAPE from Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this" (2 Ki 19:30, 31; Isa 37:31,32 - NIV says ‘survivors’ in the place of ‘those who escape’). All were not fortunate to escape the sword of their captivators. A small number survived.

Even today very few are those who escape the onslaught of the enemy. When God’s judgment fell on Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent His angels to deliver Lot and his family. The angels told him to ESCAPE and save their lives, to ESCAPE to the mountains lest they be swept away in the sweeping disaster of Sodom and Gomorrah. While Abraham and Sarah left a wicked city to a land of blessing, Lot and his wife left a land of blessing to a wicked city. For them the outward appearance was attractive and promising for a prosperous life. They didn’t think of the bad infl uence from the wicked people of that city. Only after moving in there, Lot was constantly tormented by the moral rot that surrounded him. His wife and daughters picked up the bad culture of the place. Even Lot was infl uenced. Can you imagine the righteous Lot off ering to give his unmarried daughters to perverts? (Gen19: 8).

However God had mercy on the family and two angels guided them to escape. Lot’s wife lagged behind so she could have one last look at all her collection, without anyone noticing her. Alas! She became a pillar of salt. Jesus has warned us to "Remember Lot’s wife." The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building till God burnt down everything. Jesus said, "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the fi eld should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife!" (Lk 17: 28-32). Jesus was warning us not to have our mind in our possessions like Lot’s wife and look back. Even though God was gracious enough to provide a way of escape for the family, Lot’s wife did not make it. We are all in for rough times. When the Corona ambulance comes to take us to the hospital, will we look back?

"A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. Though your people, O Israel, will be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous" (Isa 10:21,22). Do you see yourself here? Christians are numerous. They are called by the name of Christ. They call Him, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do what He says (Lk 6:46). Let us take God’s word seriously or else we will not escape the coming disaster. Let us escape to the mountains, to higher grounds. Our moral standard must be much higher than that of the ‘Christian Community’. "I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:20). Love for God means obeying Him.

When the walls of Jericho collapsed, one portion stood its ground, and that was the portion where Rahab’s house was (Josh 2:15) and the scarlet rope was hanging from there. That was the fi rst miracle God did for her. Though the whole of Jericho was destroyed, Rahab escaped with her family. She decided to leave her idols and sinful life and turn to the Living God.

When tempted, Joseph ran out of the house and escaped the onslaught of satan. We have many examples in the Bible to encourage us to run away from even what "appears" to be evil so that we will join the remnant. The majority are slaughtered mercilessly by the devil. Will you be one of the few escapees? "No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior ESCAPES by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them..." (Psalm 33:16-18). We cannot save ourselves. Unless the Lord of Hosts has left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have become like Gomorrah (Isa 1:9). Rightly did Ezra acknowledge the grace of God: "The Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a fi rm place in His sanctuary" (Ezra 9:8). So, as the psalmist says, let us fear God and set our hope in Him. Yes, the remnant who escaped shall return, but not of their own strength, but "the zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this" (2 Ki 19:30,31).

When the remnant started trickling into Jerusalem to build the temple, satan was horrifi ed. But he had some tricks up his sleeve to hamstring them. But Ezra was not to be defeated by satan. How to preserve the remnant?

After the completion of the temple and the grand dedication ceremony, it came to the knowledge of Ezra that the people of Israel including the priests and the Levites, did not keep themselves away from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices. They had intermingled with them through marriage. What was Ezra’s reaction on hearing this? He tore his tunic and cloak, pulled hair from his head and beard and slumped to the ground, appalled. Only by evening he arose. He fell on his knees and prayed. He wept, confessing the sins of the people and said, "Oh Lord, God of Israel, You are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before You in our guilt, though because of it no one of us can stand in Your presence" (Ezra 9:14,15). Ezra was angry at sin and reacted violently. He warned God’s people that sin could once again lead God to destroy them all. God had been merciful before when they sinned, because they survived as a remnant. But they should not presume upon His grace but repent and make some heart-breaking decisions.

What was the result? "While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites - men, women and children - They too wept bitterly" (10:1). They were stabbed by guilt. This was followed by confession of sin and setting right matters.

How did Nehemiah react to sin? He rebuked those who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. He called curses down on them. He beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. He made them take an oath in God’s name (Neh 13:23-27). It was a battle cry against sin and the message was loud and clear.

Centuries later in the same place Jesus made a whip and drove out traders. If Jesus had requested "Please go out, this is a holy place," do you think they would have complied? Jesus was angry at sin just like Ezra and Nehemiah. Even God was enraged with the Israelites when they went after idols and expressed His anger in red hot language. When you don’t fi ght against evil, you encourage it.

Do you see today this kind of an anger and reaction to sin? All we hear is, "We’ll forgive you 7x70 times. Don’t worry, your future sins are also forgiven. "Good motivation for a sinner to repent, eh? People don’t worry about their conscience anymore. People do not feel guilty anymore. What in the world will restrain sin? What’s going to motivate people to obey God? Let’s not be afraid to show our anger at sin. We sing, "Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved." Before grace can relieve fear of punishment, it teaches our hearts to fear sin. Christians have not realized the seriousness of sin. They will do in hell, when it will be too late to do anything about it. The prophets of doom were angry with the sin of people. That’s why a remnant escaped.

Think of all the abused people - the poor who are robbed, the relatives of victims who were murdered, the victims of domestic violence... Don’t they need justice? You tell them to forgive 7×70 times? That is injustice. They are not rubber dolls to meekly shake their heads and say, ‘I forgive’. They have feelings, emotions, spirit that gets wounded, heart that aches, body that aches from the battering. So understand 7x70 in the proper context and hold the culprit answerable for his sin. Then the chances of more people escaping to become a remnant is possible. Don’t be like the false prophets who bandaged wounds without painfully squeezing the pus out fi rst.

"We have ESCAPED like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have ESCAPED" (Psalm 124:7). A snare is a device to cleverly trap us and is kept hidden from our eyes. It has something to attract us as a bait. So are the attractions the devil off ers us. They look harmless, they are exciting to experience and often promise quick recovery. ‘Only this once and no more,’ we think, but our feet are caught. How do we escape? Easy. All you have to do is to keep yourself under the Almighty and trust in Him for deliverance. Then He shall surely deliver you from the snare of the fowler, who is the devil (Psalm 91:1-3).

How to keep ourselves under the Almighty? Come to 1 Corinthians 10. Of the vast army of people who started off from Egypt, only two reached Canaan. This is too small a remnant. Why were the others not able to make it? God was not pleased with "most" of them (v5). They forsook the Living God and made idols for themselves; they indulged in revelry; they sold themselves out to sexual immorality; they tested the Lord; they grumbled. We are surrounded by the same sins today also; but God assures us: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of ESCAPE, that you may be able to bear it" (v13). The author continues to say, "Therefore, my beloved, fl ee from idolatry" (v14). God needs our cooperation. He is faithful to limit our temptation and provide an escape door for us. Our responsibility is to fl ee from temptation.

"'I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven,’ declares the Lord. ‘Come O Zion! ESCAPE,...whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye’" (Zech 2: 6-8). For a brief moment He deserted us. We became slaves of the devil. But still we are the apple of His eye. He calls us to escape from our captivator, satan.

Paul writes to Timothy about opposers, who oppose the truth, who are unrepentant, who were trapped by the devil and taken as captives to do his will. They need to come to their senses and ESCAPE from the trap of the devil. God has to grant them repentance. We can only gently instruct them and hope for the best (2 Tim 2 : 25, 26).

How does one escape this awful trap? As long as we live in this world we will have evil desires. James says that one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. When we go along the path of this evil desire, it becomes sin which culminates in death (Js 1:14,15). Can this process be stopped somewhere, or is there no escape? Let’s see what Peter has to say about it. There is a way of escape. That is through the very great and precious promises that God has given us. When we read and re-read these promises and absorb them, our very nature starts changing and we participate in the divine nature. When we meditate on God and Jesus Christ our Lord, that very knowledge gives us everything we need for life and godliness. It is not of us, it is the divine power that gives us all these. That is how we ESCAPE the corrupt world (2 Pet 1:3,4).

The remnant who were left behind came to Jeremiah to pray for guidance. But when God told them to remain in Israel, the message disappointed them; for they felt if they fl ed to Egypt they would be secure (Jer 42). In fact they had already determined to go to Egypt and they hoped Jeremiah would prophesy likewise. But when it turned out to be otherwise, they refused to listen. So the majority of the remnant went to Egypt. Only a small percentage remained in the land, trusting the word of the Lord. Is this not what we do often? We rebel against the word of God and say, "We will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart" (Jer 18:12).

See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks (through the Bible). If they (Israelites) did not ESCAPE when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we ESCAPE if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? (Heb 12:25).

God is making a way for us. He will dry up rivers for the remnant to walk through. "The Lord will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea with a scorching wind. He will sweep His hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that people can cross over in sandals. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt" (Isa 11:15,16). Do not be afraid of the rivers in spate before you. You will walk through them. Walk the highway, head high, O remnant!

Now there is a fi nal hurdle for those who escape and come through. People who speak empty boastful words, seduce those who have recently ESCAPED from the passions of this world. Keep yourselves away from these dangerous corrupt people (2 Pet 2 :17-22). If you have made this fi nal escape, you will take root below and bear fruit above. "In that day the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is, left of His people" (Isa 11:11). Be encouraged! Who is a God like our God, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? He does not stay angry forever but delights to show mercy (Mic 7:18).

Here are some promises for you, if you have decided to faithfully stick on to God -

"Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, You whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and grey hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you; I will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you" (Isa 46:3,4).

"I Myself will gather the remnant of My fl ock out of all the countries where I have driven them and I will bring them back to the pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number" (Jer 23:3,4).

"This is what the Lord says : I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt in her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor and they will not be disdained" (Jer 30:18,19).

"The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid" (Zeph 3:13).

Let’s conclude with Paul’s statement about the remnant. Talking about God’s sovereign choice, he says that God chose to show the riches of His glory to us whom He chose out of His mercy. Then he quotes from Isaiah saying, "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out His sentence on earth with speed and fi nality" (Rom 9:23-29; Isa 10:22,23).

I believe His sentence has already started. What does this mean to us today? We may be thinking, "Only I am walking close to God; everybody else has gone astray." Wait! That’s what Elijah told God. But God told him that He had reserved for Himself seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal. "So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace" (Rom 11:1-5).

Let us not bend our knee to the Baals of materialism and lust. Let us escape the corruption of this world and join the remnant!

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Dr. Lilian Stanley
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