16 For shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
17 But thus saith the Lord: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant people. For thus saith the Lord: I will contend with them that contendeth with thee—
18 And I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood as with sweet wine; and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
(2 Nephi 6:16-18, Isaiah 49:24-26)
After teaching the people of Nephi about the scattering and gathering of Israel, Jacob quotes a passage from Isaiah containing an important promise: God is able to free us from captivity, no matter how powerful the captor may be.
Isaiah begins by asking a question in two parts:
- “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty?” In other words, can a person hope to escape when their captor is much more powerful than they are?
- “Or the lawful captive delivered?” Sometimes, it’s not just people who oppress us. Our freedom can be curtailed by institutional structures, policies, and customs. Consider, for example, governments which have permitted slavery. Can we be delivered, Isaiah asks, when the very laws of the land have shattered our freedom?
His answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Don’t give up on God, he pleads with us. When you have made covenants with God, those promises go both directions. You have not only promised to stand with Him, but He has also promised to stand with you. “I will contend with them that contendeth with thee,” He says. And he is more powerful than any captor, whether that captor be an individual, a group of people, or an entire nation.
As I think about this promise, I’m reminded of the following words of reassurance from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the “light that is endless, that can never be darkened.” It is the very Son of God Himself. In loving praise far beyond Romeo’s reach, we say, “What light through yonder window breaks?” It is the return of hope, and Jesus is the Sun. To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His “more excellent ministry” with a future of “better promises.” He is your “high priest of good things to come” (“An High Priest of Good Things to Come,” General Conference, October 1999).
Today, I will remember that God is on my side, and that He is powerful enough to help me overcome any challenge I may face. I will continue to move forward, believing that I can surmount every obstacle and escape every captivity as long as I continue to exercise faith in Him.