To Set the Captive Free

By Francis Frangipane

During the last hours of this age a great army shall arise; it shall consist of many who were formerly lame and spiritually oppressed. Indeed, a multitude that is last now, will become first to enter His glory.

When we consider the waning hours of this age --- the times of judgment, glory and terror --- we must keep our eyes upon the grace and purposes of God. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Christ never ceases to be the Redeemer of mankind, even during times of divine judgment.

We may wonder, Isn't He coming with great wrath? Yes. But the "Lion" who alone is worthy to "open the book" is always also a "Lamb standing, as if slain" (Rev. 5:5-6). Christ will not cease being the Redeemer, even in the day of His wrath; in wrath, He remembers mercy (Hab. 3:1-2).

In truth, many who have repeatedly failed the Lord during the past years will discover a new grace in the days ahead. The coming days, for many, will be days of restoration and healing.

"In that day," declares the Lord, "I will assemble the lame and gather the outcasts, even those whom I have afflicted"' (Mic. 4:6).

We think, and fear, that the Lord's justice requires He mete out punishment to those who have fallen into bondage; certainly sin itself has grievous consequences. However, the Lord's mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13). God sees all things through the lens of restoration and redemption.

He says, "Behold, I am going to deal at that time with all your oppressors, I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will turn their shame into praise and renown in all the earth" (Zeph. 3:19).

You see, God deals not just with our sin, but He also confronts our oppressors. We are not God's enemies, the devil is. We may, however, be a primary battleground in the war between heaven and hell! Yes, when we sin we must be responsible to repent, but it is the devil that seeks to steal us from the Lord; and it is the Lord who desires to rescue us from the devil. Ultimately, the war is really between them; we must choose whose side we are on.

Consider: Jesus began His ministry with a prophecy that came from the prophet Isaiah. The text He quoted perfectly defined both His mission and His nature: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me," He said, "because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord" (Isa. 61:1-2).

God, the Eternal Father, sent His Son to earth, He anointed Him with power so that Jesus could proclaim liberty to captives and bring freedom to prisoners. When one is incarcerated by sin, he is locked in a prison not made of concrete and steel, but consisting of accusation, fear, shame, regret, and the addiction of sin itself. Ruling this prison is a demonic "strong man" (see Luke 11:21). When Jesus comes, He overpowers this strongman. Christ pays our "fines," and sets us free. He did not come to condemn prisoners, but to release them.

Note also that Jesus ended this prophecy from Isaiah in the middle of a sentence. Isaiah's promise continues as it describes the complete purpose of God in Christ. It reads, "To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God" (Isa. 61:2). I love that Christ proclaims a favorable year, but only a day of vengeance. Such is the balance of Christ's heart: Anger lasts for a night, His mercy endures for a lifetime.

Yet, there is a dimension to the vengeance of God that actually is born of mercy. Indeed, for the victims of injustice or spiritual attack, the vengeance of God is often a time when captives are set free. Consider: it is specifically during the "day of vengeance" that Christ comes "to comfort all who mourn . . . giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting." It is also a time that our spiritual potential is released and destiny accelerated, when those who were oppressed become "oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified" (Isa. 61:2-3).

God's wrath comes to destroy that which has been destroying us! The struggle of many Christians has not just been with sin, but with the demonic reinforcement of sin. The enemy robs us of joy, strength and health, leaving us more vulnerable to depression and sin. Christ comforts our mourning by disarming the demonic side of our struggle.

The Lord frees us so we can free others. Of those whom He has just comforted, He says, "Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations, and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations" (Isa. 61:4).

It is not as a theorist that I write, but as one who was, himself, a "former devastation" whom God delivered. Today, I'm part of that army God is using to spiritually rebuild the ancient ruins and help repair the ruined cities. Do not give up on your loved ones. In the days ahead, addicts of all kinds shall become some of the most effective witnesses of divine grace; many gang members and homosexuals will pass through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and, as new creatures in Christ, be used mightily by God in the days ahead.

Whether the victim of oppression is a loved one, a friend or even yourself, the Lord is here to bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim liberty to prisoners. He has come, not to condemn, but to set the captive free.


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