Monday, November 4, 2013
Here for a reason, sent on a mission
He has sent me… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God.
Oubliette dungeon at Warwick Castle… a prisoner shut away, forgotten, dying, a kind of medieval hell
What does it feel like to be held captive by the enemy, a prisoner, a broken person, kept in darkness and obscurity?
Years ago, rich and influential barons owned the land and lived in a fortified castle with battlements, inner and outer defences – and dungeons. There was protection for the people who ‘belonged’ to that particular lord, but it came at a price. It was a life of servitude and the first and probably greater part of whatever you produced was owned by the castle.
Unfortunately when abbeys were founded as religious communities, they grew and prospered and, little by little, became corrupted by the cultural expectations until they, too, became virtual castles, storehouses of wealth and alternative bastions of power presided over by the all-powerful abbott. It was a power game, the power of the barons offset by the considerable power and wealth of the church. People like us were mere pawns on the chessboard with no power – and no favour.
If you fell into disfavour with either side, there was little justice. At a whim you could be imprisoned and possibly thrown into the lowest dungeon of all, accessed only by a high up ceiling opening, called the oubliette. The name comes from the French word for ‘forget’ and this fate was know that you were hidden and forgotten by the outside world, without anyone to plead your case.
That is what Satan wants to do – to oppress people, put them in darkness and remind them that they are forgotten and beyond hope. Extreme language? Ask someone who has battled depression. Ask someone who has battled hopelessness. Ask a white-collar recession victim what it’s like at a Jobcentre.
The point of this verse is a principle called the ’opposite spirit’. The enemy has a scheme, and it is simply to kill, steal, destroy, oppress – and cause fear, anxiety and hopelessness. Someone you know is getting a dose of that in part (or all) of their life.
However, our Father in heaven is always about His saving business and looking for His people to join Him in the opposite spirit to that spirit of fear, confusion, hopelessness and alienation. As we remember people before the Lord spiritually and practically, as we bless them, honour them and surround them with love, we are turning up at the dungeon with a warrant for release.
In medieval times, release only came by someone paying a hefty ransom, or having a greater power, to enter the castle and release the prisoners. You can see where this is going now – Jesus has both paid the ransom and surrounded the castle. We are sent to proclaim God’s favour – grace as The Message puts it – and His retribution for the treatment of the enemy’s captives. We are an advance party for that greater power with an anointing to break the chains of hopelessness and declare release – literally speak it out over the person. It is a speech that may be ridiculed the first time or the second – but we speak it in the name of the King of kings. When that fact sinks in, it will be heard and acted on!
These captives the Lord puts on our hearts cannot plead their case, but any one of us who knows who we are in Christ can get a hearing in the highest court – heaven.