Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sending the Seventy, part 24: Treading on Serpents and Scorpions

The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luke 10:17-20 NASB)
(Note: This post is a continuation of part 23, and you can read it here.) 

Our verse today is one of those that has been part of a controversy in the church because of the ones who have interpreted it, in conjunction with Mark 16, to suggest that "true believers" of Christ can handle serpents (rattlesnakes and other poisonous snakes) without harm, even when a snake bite results in envenomation.  When we look at this passage in context, however, I believe we will see it a little differently. The seventy sent-ones had just returned from their journey of sharing the good news of Jesus and healing the sick. They were filled with joy over the results of their labors and rejoiced that "even the demons are subject to us in Your name." 

They rejoiced in what they saw with their physical eyes. Jesus, however, shared and rejoiced in what He saw with His spiritual eyes. "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning." Immediately following that statement, He said, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you." Because Jesus was speaking in the previous sentence from a spiritual perspective, He was almost certainly continuing in a spiritual perspective. 

The word translated as "tread" is pateō, which is defined by BLB as "to advance by setting foot upon, tread upon, to encounter successfully the greatest perils from the machinations and persecutions with which Satan would fain thwart the preaching of the gospel."  The idea of "treading upon serpents" is that we would walk over the serpent successfully and walk past all the power of the enemy (Satan) as  we, through our obedient service to Christ, participate in the destruction of the kingdom of the evil one.  The "treading" does not require us to pick up a literal snake. The "treading" requires us to obey Christ in sharing the Good News of Christ to all we encounter, thus overcoming the power of that spiritual serpent, Satan, by the power of God Almighty.

The very first prophecy of the Messiah occurs in Genesis 3:15 as God cursed the serpent because of his part in the sin of Adam and Eve. These words of Jesus in Luke 10 are almost certainly a direct reference to that curse. Read it and consider.

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." Geneses 3:15 NASB

Clearly, the heel of Christ and the head of the serpent Satan have a figurative encounter here. Although the serpent Satan will deliver a bruise to Christ's heel, it will not be a terminal wound. The heel of Christ, however, will "bruise" the head of Satan, delivering a fatal blow. (If the head is crushed, it is fatal.) 

Let's put all this rambling together. When we serve Christ in obedience as the seventy sent-ones did, we participate in destruction of the kingdom of the evil one. Christ has given his obedient followers the authority to "tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy". He has given us the authority to participate with Him in the fatal bruise on the head of the serpent Satan. If we have authority to tread "over all the power of the enemy", then there is no power of Satan that can stand against the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. No power. None whatsoever. 

Selah. Pause and consider.

If there is no power of Satan that can stand against the Kingdom of God, why do we allow him to cause such havoc in our lives? Why do we submit to the temptations he offers us? It is well past time for the body of Christ to embrace this truth. Jesus has given us all the authority we need to tread on the head of the enemy of our soul, resisting his temptations, and defeating his power in our lives. Let us embrace the truth that we can be free if we will be free, and live accordingly. 

Sending the Seventy, part 23

The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luke 10:17-20 NASB)

There is an unbearable sweetness in Jesus' response to the sent-ones on their return. The seventy returned to tell Jesus about their trip. It had been hard and tiring. They must have been physically exhausted. Spiritually, however, they were on a mountaintop from which they would never recover. They were bubbling over with excitement about all they had seen, all God had allowed them to accomplish in the name of Jesus. Even the demons were subject to them in Jesus' name, they told Him. Listen to this sweet thing that Jesus said to them. It's amazing!

"I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning."

How about that?! He was telling His excited disciples, the sent-ones, that He had been keeping His eye on them, and that He knew what they had been doing. He knew that the demons had been subject to them in His name and, when that happened, He "was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning." As they brought healing from demonic influence in the life of those to whom they ministered, Satan literally lost ground in the high places. Jesus told them that, when they were ministering in His name, it was as if he could see lightning flashing all around with the fall of Satan's kingdom. Get that picture in your mind's eye. Wow. Pretty exciting, isn't it?

There's an interesting contrast between what the sent-ones saw and what Jesus saw. The sent-ones saw the lives that were changed. They saw the physical evidence of the demons leaving those who were healed. Jesus, on the other hand, saw the spiritual evidence of Satan's kingdom losing ground. What the disciples saw was very exciting, and there's no doubt about that.  We would be fortunate to see what they saw. If we could see what Jesus sees when we minister, however, how much more exciting it would be! 

"Satan falling from heaven like lightning". We can, through our obedience in sharing the good news of Jesus, be a part in that fall. We can have a part in not only extending the Kingdom of God, but also decreasing the kingdom of darkness.  Best of all? No matter how hard, how lonely, or how tiring our work, we can be assured that our Lord knows exactly what we face and that He is watching and cheering us on! 

So, weary servants, take heart. Even when your way is hard, you are never alone, never out of sight. Our Lord cares for you, and He is watching over you. He doesn't miss a thing!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sending the seventy, part 22:

The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luke 10:17-20 NASB)

The seventy sent-ones had just returned from their missionary trip, having traveled (on foot) to the towns where Jesus planned to go. They had paved the way by telling the people about Jesus and healing the sick. It was hard. It was exciting. It filled them with joy. 

When they returned, the sent-ones were bubbling over with excitement about their experience. "Even the demons are subject to us in Your name!" It was amazing to them, and it would be to us. They prayed for healing and people were healed. They prayed in the name of Jesus for demons to leave those they tormented, and the demons came out. The healing and restoration they witnessed took their breath away and thrilled them completely. 

"Even demons," they said. The most impossible thing happened through the power of the name of Jesus and they were in awe of that power. 

At the name of Jesus, even the demons fled. 

We, who are so comfortable in our padded pews with church services that are limited to a strict timetable and order of worship, may go a lifetime and never see a soul set free from demonic control at the name of Jesus. We may never see the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear. We may never invoke the name of Jesus with the bold faith of these seventy sent-ones, and we will be poorer for our lack of faith. There is one fact that needs to be ingrained in our minds and hearts. Our failure to see, our failure to ask, our failure to pray in no way indicates an inability on God's part to deliver, to hear, to free, or to redeem. The God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever is still able to heal, redeem, and set free. Even demons still have to obey the name of Jesus. 

As we begin this new year, let us embark on the journey of the sent-ones. This year, with nothing but the commission of Christ, let us follow in obedience and invite our Lord to do what we never dreamed was possible this year. Pray that the captives would be set free, that demons would flee, and that we, like the sent-ones, would be filled with joy by all we see God do. 
Read last night's post, The New Zealand Badge, here. It turns out that faithfulness in working toward a little goal can achieve more than you knew was possible. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The New Zealand Badge

Emails from Fitbit are a never ending adventure. Today, I received an email that said, "Congrats on earning your New Zealand badge!" New Zealand? How could I possibly have earned a New Zealand badge, and what is that, anyway? It turns out that I have now walked the distance between Mordor and the Shire, which is 990 miles, without ever leaving Mississippi. Who knew? 

There's something wonderful about that kind of tangible encouragement, isn't there? If I'd known I could earn a New Zealand badge for walking 990 miles, you can be sure I'd have tried to get there sooner. It's not the electronic badge that I want. It's that setting of a goal and meeting it. The amazing thing about this goal is that I didn't set it. What I set was a daily goal of 10,000 steps. As I've worked hard at meeting that goal every day, I've gradually accumulated some distance. Apparently, those steps I've faithfully walked have added up to miles, and those miles have added up to the distance between Mordor and the Shire. I had no idea that walking the distance from Mordor to the Shire was possible, but someone did, and someone was taking note. (Of course that "someone" was probably a computer program!)

There's an amazing thing about faithfully working toward a goal. Sometimes our faithfulness does more than meet the goal we set. It leads us to a goal we never knew was possible. Before you know it, our faithfulness has achieved more than we dreamed. Isn't that amazing? 

Let's do something absolutely daring in 2015. Let's set a goal, work at it every day, and faithful meet the goal we've set. While we're being faithful, let's look with expectation toward the goal we didn't know was possible. Let's look toward that which God will do with the little bit we offer. What He does is always more than we could ask or hope, so let's start now and look toward what God does with what we do! What fun we will have!

Thanks for sharing 2014 with me. I'm looking forward to an even more amazing 2015, so get ready for an amazing ride! Happy New Year! See ya' next year!

Sending the Seventy, part 21:

"And the seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.' And He said to them, 'I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.'" 
                                                                                                                              Luke 10: 17-20 NASB

Jesus had sent the seventy out with quite a job. They were to go to every town and village where He was headed, telling the good news of Jesus and healing in His name. From the beginning, He told them that He was sending them out as lambs among wolves. That comment alone might have been enough to turn back the most adventuresome among us, but not the seventy.  They plowed ahead. 

They could take nothing at all with them. They had the clothes on their backs but no bag, money, change of garments, or bedroll.  They were to go to a town and look for a man of peace. They were to offer a blessing of peace to those in a house and, if it was received, they could stay there while they ministered in the town. If not, they would move on to the next town. They were to accept whatever hospitality was given without moving around, looking for better accommodations. Some entire towns would reject them. When that happened, and it would, they were to leave and go to the next town. 

This was not a fun vacation on which they embarked. This was a physically exhausting, emotionally trying, spiritually draining trip. It was nothing they had ever done before and likely nothing they had imagined. Still, they went. The sent ones did exactly what Jesus said, in exactly the way He said it, and they made it through.

When they returned, not one of them talked about how meager the accommodations or how insubstantial the food. Not one of them whined to Jesus about how difficult the task or the towns that had rejected them.  When they reported to Jesus, they returned with joy! Imagine that! They loved the trip. They considered it a fun journey. They would likely volunteer to do it again. 

They returned with joy!

Is that how we see obedience? Do we count it as joy, no matter the circumstances? Do we rejoice when we serve God in hard or unpleasant circumstances? 

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference that was nothing at all like I expected. The accommodations were less than optimal and I quickly found out about my own sense of entitlement. It took more time than it should have to find my way to acceptance of the circumstances in which God had thrust me, but, once accomplished, something amazing happened. Through Christ, I was able to rise to the occasion. With His help, none of the circumstances mattered one bit. What mattered was that He was at work all around me and I was allowed to see Him, experience Him in new ways. At the end of the week, I, too, reported back to Jesus with joy, and now find that the experience changed me in some difficult to define, but very important, way. 

The sent-ones served and sacrificed for the Lord they loved, and it was worth it. We, too, will find that sacrifice and service, linked hand-in-hand, are not only worth it, they bring great joy. Jesus took those seventy sent-ones completely out of their comfort zones and made them completely dependent upon Him. He wants to do the same with us. You and me. He wants to use us in ways we cannot imagine, giving us joy in the journey more profound than we can comprehend. He will do it, too, if we allow it. 

What is it to which Christ is calling you? What adventure does He offer? Like the seventy sent-ones, why not step out in faith, accept the challenge, and follow the One who has already made a way? The circumstances may not be to your liking, but by the end of your journey, you, too, will be reporting back with great joy over all you have seen God do.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sending the Seventy, part 20: Rejecting the Sent-Ones

"The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and He who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me."  (Luke 10:16 NASB)  

We read "When you have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto Me" (Matthew 25:40) and we understand that we have served Christ when we have served others. This verse, however, tells us something we may not want to hear. When we "reject" those whom Christ has sent to minister in His name, we reject Him.  We read about rejecting ministers and think to ourselves that we would never do that. "Of course, we do not persecute ministers," we think, but persecution is not exactly that to which Jesus was referring.

Matthew Henry wrote some very hard words that we do well to consider. "And they who despise the faithful ministers of Christ, who, though they do not hate and persecute them, yet think meanly of them, look scornfully upon them, and turn their backs upon their ministry, will be reckoned with as despisers of God and Christ." 

It's all I can do to read that, and yet it rings with truth. When God calls someone to minister in His name, He literally sends them in His name, or in His place. They are His representative. There are some ministers, just as there are some who are not ministers, who will be drawn into sin and live in rebellion. This is not written in reference to them. This is in reference to that sent-one who is a faithful minister. When we reject those faithful ministers, "think meanly of them", scorn them (even "behind their backs") and turn our backs on them, we are rejecting, scorning, and turning our backs on Christ, and on His Father who sent Him. 

The word translated as "reject" is atheteō and means "to reject, to refuse, or to slight." What does this look like in today's world? When we avoid worship service because we do not like the minister's style of preaching, we atheteō him and his ministry, and, according to this verse, we also atheteō Jesus and our Heavenly Father, as well. When we indulge in negative thoughts or complaining about the minister God has sent, we atheteō the minister, Jesus, and our Heavenly Father, as well.Whoa! That sounds harsh, doesn't it? Perhaps so, but Jesus was not just talking to hear Himself talk here. He is serious about His sent-ones, and He expects us to be, as well.  

The sent-ones were not sent to entertain the crowds. They were not sent to tickle their ears. They were sent to tell the good news of Jesus and to heal the sick. The towns to which they were sent were responsible for listening, receiving, and providing. The people to whom these ministers were sent would, ultimately, care for them as they did their own family by welcoming them into their homes, and we do well to take note of their response to the sent-ones. 

Those who minister in the name of Jesus will, of course, give account of the way in which they minister. Ministers are not called to be entertaining, and we should not expect entertainment. They are not called to preach pithy sermons with cute alliteration nor lead worship in the way to which we have become accustomed. They are called to share the Word of God in a clear manner and glorify Christ in whatever they do. Does the music glorify God? Does the preacher's message come straight from the Word of God? If so, then it is our job to respect their efforts.

We who are not ministers will give account of the way we treated those ministers. Did we grumble and complain that the music was not to our liking? Did we refuse to listen to the minister with a "boring" style? Did we reject the sermons because they were too deep or too shallow? Oh, dear ones, I am as guilty as anyone of not respecting the ministers of Christ as I should, but this verse has pierced my heart, bringing conviction and change.

Not long ago, I was in a worship service where the sermon was not organized to my liking and the manner of presentation was less than stellar. It was all I could do to stay in my seat through the entire sermon. Afterwards, someone mentioned a very astute insight the preacher had said and I was shocked. I had not heard anything helpful at all. The fault was not in the minister, but in the listener. 

If we are tempted to reject, think meanly of, and scorn the ministers God has sent, let us first examine our own hearts, then let us pray for His servants to glorify God in all they do, regardless of the skill and finesse with which they do it. Let's be sure we listen to Christ by our response to His sent-ones, and not reject Him.

The link to last night's story, Mamie Invents a New Game, is here.
We often want a "fast food" answer to our prayers when what we need is the "crock pot" solution that allows God to do His work completely, both in us and our situation. If you are weary in waiting for the answer to your prayer, here's something that can help. The Waiting: When the Answer to Your Prayer is Delayed and Your Hope is Goneis available here. Also available in Tupelo at Joyful Creations and Park Place Salon.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Mamie Invents a New Game

Mamie the Apprentice Wonder Puppy is a five pound Shih Tzu who just celebrated her first birthday. She is still a puppy, especially in the playing department. Her big sister, Maggie the Wonder Dog is six years old and not always in the mood to play. Maggie is very glamorous and playing is done on her terms or not at all. 

One of Mamie's favorite games is called "Maggie Tap". Mamie likes to tap Maggie with her paw to see what Maggie will do. Mamie can tap Maggie at least a dozen times before Maggie gets fed up and growls. I'm pretty sure Mamie is trying for a new record, so the tapping and growling lasts for a significant portion of every day. Maggie is more patient than I would be, but probably she's just grateful to have a break from Mamie's incessant "kissing" (licking). 

Recently, Mamie invented a new game. Maggie was yawning and Mamie clearly thought, "Why not?" She stuck her paw in Maggie's mouth and pulled it out successfully. Immediately, the race was on! Mamie would stick her paw in Maggie's mouth and try to pull it out before Maggie could close on her. Truthfully, Mamie is unbelievably good at this and incredibly fast. Of course, Big Sister Maggie is far more patient than three humans combined would be, and kindly refrains from biting her foot off.  

This morning, the Wonder Dogs had joined me on my bed for quiet time. Maggie is a well-trained Wonder Dog and understands when to be still and quiet. Mamie is still an Apprentice Wonder Puppy, mostly because she is wide open all the time and is very seldom still and quiet. Mamie decided to play the "Maggie Mouth" game, even though Maggie's mouth was firmly closed. Mamie would pat Maggie's mouth until Maggie finally opened it, then pop her paw inside Maggie's mouth and pull it out before she could close her mouth. (The fact that Mamie still has four paws is due to the magnificent patience of Maggie the Wonder Dog.) 

As you might imagine, Maggie soon had enough, and started to give a little warning growl. Mamie never heeds warning growls, however, so she kept right on tapping Maggie's mouth, popping her paw in, and pulling it out. The warning growls got a little louder. Mamie never slowed down. I gave her a stern warning and moved her, but she was quickly right back in Maggie's face. Finally, Maggie snapped at her. In Maggie's defense, she let Mamie get her paw out before she snapped, so she didn't even nip her. Mamie was shocked! How dare her sister try to bite her!?! The most surprising thing happened next. Mamie stuck her paw right back in Maggie's mouth, daring her to bite the paw. 

Mamie's behavior is so much like our own that I laughed out loud before I moved her off the bed to preserve Maggie's sanity. Watching her do something that is clearly not wise and will be dangerous to her paw if she doesn't slow it down reminds me so much of some of my own decisions over the years. Perhaps you've had a few of those less than stellar decisions of your own. Looking back, I wonder why I persisted when there were plenty of "warning growls" to let me know I was heading in the wrong direction. Maybe you've never done this, but I have to admit that I have. I, like Mamie, have a tendency to do one more round, just to be sure. 

Now that I have accumulated a few birthdays (being 39 again), I'm not quite as foolhardy as in my youth, but there are days when I'm likely as foolish as Mamie. If you are honest, you probably have those days, too. As we look toward the new year, let's take a lesson from the Wonder Dogs. 

Be smarter than you want to be.
Listen for the warning growls, and stop while you're ahead. 

Sending the Seventy, part 19: Capernaum

"And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!" (Luke 10:15 NASB)

These words come near the end of Jesus' instructions to the seventy as they prepared to leave for the journey. Jesus knew that it was exciting to be a sent-one, but not every experience would be easy. Not every town would receive them, He told the sent ones. They were not responsible for results, but for obedience to share the gospel. If they were not received, they were to shake the dust off their feet and move on. 

Jesus, Himself, had encountered similar difficulty. He had harsh words for Capernaum, where His ministry was centered. Peter, Andrew, and Philip were all from Capernaum and Jesus and the disciples were frequently in and out of the small town. Jesus performed numerous miracles there. Sight was restored to the blind, hearing was restored to the deaf. The paralytic was healed, demons were cast out, and withered bodies were made whole. 

The people of Capernaum not only heard the words of Jesus but also saw signs and wonders. They had a choice. They could embrace the teachings of Jesus or cling to the old ways, relying on sacrifice rather than relationship. Although Jesus offered freedom and hope, most chose the old ways and rejected Jesus. 

 Some of the towns, like Capernaum, where Jesus had spent the most time would gain little from His presence. God had blessed them extravagantly with His presence and honored them with the works He did in their presence. Rejecting Jesus was an option, but it came with a severe price. In the judgment, Capernaum would be "brought down to Hades." 

Every decision comes with consequences. Sometimes those consequences are good, but some are not. The decision to reject Jesus would have far reaching consequences for Capernaum that extended to the day of judgment. What we often forget is that every single one of our decisions has consequences, too. Every decision to obey, or not, is more than checking yes or no on a form. It has weight and significance. Embracing the truth of Jesus matters. Obedience matters.

As we begin our day, may we take advantage of every opportunity to serve Christ in obedience, embracing the freedom only Christ can give. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Favorites, part 2

On Christmas Day, I shared some of my favorite passages from Isaiah and promised more that evening, but am only just getting back to it. My son has been home!!! We had a marvelous time and (of course) writing is a bit lower on the priority list when he's home.

Here are a few more of my favorite passages from Isaiah: 

"For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness." (Isaiah 26:9 NASB)

I've learned more about righteousness through the discipline of God than any other way.

For his God instructs and teaches him properly. (Isaiah 28:26 NASB)

God knows and will use exactly the right tool in just the right way to accomplish His purposes but no more than needed.

Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:18-21 NASB)

This is one of those passages on which I have relied for many years. Once we have learned what our Teacher intended through our hard times, we will see Him, recognize Him, in those circumstances. Even better, we will have clear direction for every step along the way. How about that? We can be confident of our decisions because we've learned to recognize that still, small voice!

I have more favorites, but maybe this is enough until next Christmas! We will likely chew on these truths for months to come. 

Sending the Seventy, part 18: Sidon

"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. (Luke 10:13-14 NASB) 

We began looking at this passage a few days ago with a brief history of Chorazin and Bethsaida, both towns where Jesus preached and ministered. It was in Bethsaida that the miracle of the second touch healing of the blind man occurred. Despite their familiarity with Him and the miracles He performed there, neither of these towns embraced Jesus. Both towns lie in ruins today. 

In part 17, we looked at Tyre, a wealthy seaport that trusted in its beauty and its wealth, for which it received the condemnation of Jesus. In this post, we explore Sidon, the city mentioned along with Tyre in the passage above. 

Sidon was a famous Phonecian seaport city-state located in what is now Southern Lebanon and was famous for its glassmaking industry as well as its purple dye (from the Murex shellfish). It was the mother city for Tyre. It is still an important City in Lebanon today. 

The first Biblical mention of Sidon is in Genesis 10:15, 19. Canaan, the grandson of Noah, was the father of Sidon, for whom the city was named. It was a portion of Canaan's territory. It, like Tyre, was eventually part of the territory of the tribe of Asher, but was never conquered. Instead, it was a source of continuing conflict and oppression for Israel, as well as a source of idolatry. Solomon entered into a matrimonial covenant with Sidon and the marriage ushered in his own idol worship. According to 1 Kings 16:31, Ahab also had a matrimonial alliance with Sidon via his marriage to Jezebel, daughter of the King of Sidon. 

In Joel 3, the prophet says that Tyre and Sidon made slaves of the children of Israel, selling them to the Greeks to remove them as far as possible from their land, for which Sidon will receive the judgment of God. Joel 3:8 tells us that Sidon will reap what they have sown and their own children will be sold into slavery. 

There is a beautiful promise in Joel 3:7, however, that gives hope in the most seemingly hopeless situations imaginable. 

behold, I am going to arouse them from the place where you have sold them, and return your recompense on your head. (Joel 3:7 NASB)

The Sidonians had sold the children into slavery, sending them so far that they could never get home on their own, but God not only knew where they were, He would "arouse them" and bring them home, allowing them to be an instrument of vengeance in His hand. This verse tells us that sin can never take us so far from God that He cannot rescue us and avenge us. Even when it appears that all hope is gone, that we are beyond redemption, God knows exactly where we are and what we are doing, and He is not only willing but also able to rescue and restore. 

Take heart, then, that the loved one who seems so far away is still under the watchful care of God. Press on with your prayers, waiting and watching for the day when God both arouses and returns the captives from the place of slavery.