BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
An antelope in a net is an antelope that is trapped. It is an antelope that is caged, whose liberty and movement have been curtailed. A net, a trap, or a cage is not the natural habitat of an antelope. Neither is it the natural habitat of a lion, a bird, or any animal.
An antelope is “a mammal like a deer with horns and long, thin legs that allow it to run very fast” (Cambridge Dictionary). From this description, one thing that aptly describes an antelope is swiftness. An antelope is synonymous with swiftness. 2 Samuel 2:18b says, “Now Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe or antelope” (Amplified Bible). To be light of foot means to be swift. In other words, Asahel was as swift as an antelope.
However, referring to Jerusalem, Isaiah 51:20 says, “Your sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, like an antelope in a net; they are full of the fury of the LORD, the rebuke of your God” (NKJV). Note the phrase “like an antelope in a net.”
GOD’S WORD Translation renders the verse thus: “Your children have fainted. They lie sleeping at every street corner. They are like an antelope caught in a net. They experience the anger of the Lord, the fury of your God” (Isaiah 51:20). Again, note the phrase “They are like an antelope caught in a net.” God gave me the title of this message from this phrase.
An antelope in a net! Though an antelope is swift, its swiftness becomes useless once it is caught in a net. How fast or far can it run in a net? An antelope in a net is no better than other animals that are not swift
Different kinds of nets
Just as an antelope is born to run, human beings are born to run and should. Unfortunately, some are already caught in a net; hence they have become ineffective, unsuccessful, or unproductive. They are in various kinds of nets – financial, marital, career, ancestral, etc. The effect is that they are not where they are supposed to be or doing what they were meant to be doing. They are like an antelope caught in a net!
Just as a net is not the natural habitat of an antelope, some are in the wrong places in life. They have been trapped. Just as animals are caged in a zoo, some have been caged! The enemies have tamed them. Their adversaries are there gazing and laughing at them. The enemy hid the net for them and they walked into it. David said, “For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life” (Psalm 35:7 New King James Version).
He also said in Psalm 140:5, “Proud men have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path” (NIV). Sometimes the snare is set by the wicked. Psalm 119:110 says, “The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts” (NIV). Jeremiah 5:26 also says, “Among my people are wicked men who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch men” (NIV). Net, snare, and trap refer to the same thing.
Sometimes a brother, someone close to the victim, could spread the net. “The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains. All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net” (Micah 7:2 NIV). People’s sins could also put them in the net of their enemies. Samson, endowed with supernatural power, was caught in the net of his enemy and became an ordinary person; he was humiliated (Judges 16:1-25). Also, some people’s mouths put them in the net of their enemies. “A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul” (Proverbs 18:7 NIV). Talking about the wicked, Bildad the Shuhite, in his false accusation against Job, said, “Their own feet lead them into a net. They fall into its hidden pit and are caught” (Job 18:8 Easy-to-Read Version).
Until people are released from the net, they will never be able to run; they will never be able to fulfil God’s purpose for their lives. “A trap catches them by the heel, and it holds them tight” (Job 18:9 Easy-to-Read Version). How can such people run when their heels are seized in the enemy’s trap? How can they run fast when a snare holds them fast? No one will make it if he is caught in a net.
What happens to an antelope in a net?
1. Stagnation: An antelope in a net is confined to the familiar, never experiencing new things. Inside a net, one only marks time, wastes one’s time and life, and sees the same things one has been seeing over the years. Yet, the LORD says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV). In a net, someone never experiences new things that God desires for one’s life. Such a person lives a life of stagnation. Things only get worse, not better.
2. Fainting: I referred earlier to Isaiah 51:20a, which says, “Our sons have fainted; they lie at the head of every street, like antelope caught in a net” (NIV). This shows that someone who is caught in the net experiences fainting. Being in a net, doing the same thing repeatedly without any progress, results in fainting. Those who are like an antelope in a net are weak and tired. They need God’s help for deliverance and strength. Isaiah 40:30-31 says, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (NKJV).
3. Helplessness: Isaiah 51:20, in the New Living Translation, says, “For your children have fainted and lie in the streets, helpless as antelopes caught in a net. The Lord has poured out his fury; God has rebuked them.” This scripture shows that helplessness is another effect of being caught in a net. When one is caught in a net, one becomes helpless. Those who are caught in a net need help because they cannot help themselves.
David understood what it was to be caught in a net and knew only the help of the LORD could get one out. He said in Psalm 124:1-5, “If the LORD had not been on our side– let Israel say– if the LORD had not been on our side when men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away” (NIV).
Talking about how God delivered him and his people out of the danger they were in, David said, “Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:6-8 NIV). It was the name of the LORD that made help available to them to escape. An antelope in a net needs the name of the Lord for help. The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and they are safe (Proverbs 18:10).
4. Unfruitfulness: Those who are like an antelope in a net also experience unfruitfulness. They have little or nothing to show for their labour. Unfruitfulness is frustrating. Man is created for fruitfulness biologically, spiritually, materially, financially, etc. (Genesis 1:28; 9:1, 7; 17:6, 20; 26:22; 28:3; 35:11; 41:52; 48:4; 49:22; Exodus 1:7; Leviticus 26:9; Jeremiah 23:3; Acts 14:17; Colossians 1:10). You were created for fruitfulness, not bareness. You will be fruitful in Jesus’ name. You will not labour in vain. Your work shall be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:7; Jeremiah 31:16). “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:21-22 NKJV).
5. Unrealized potential: Those who are like an antelope in a net have great potential, and hold great promises, but won’t amount to much because they’re in a trap. Their progress has been stalled by demonic forces and contrary situations. They go around in circles as an antelope caught in a net goes around the net never being able to come out. Such an antelope does all its running just within the space allowed by the net. How much space do you think it has to run inside a net? No space compared to its ability and potential.
Running in the same spot will only wear out someone; going around in circles will lead someone nowhere. There is motion but no progress; such people are busy but have little or nothing to show for their labour. They are hard-working but life is hard for them. An antelope in a net! Great potential that never ends in greatness! Lofty dreams that are never realized!
The children of Israel were, at a time in the wilderness, like an antelope in a net. They were not making progress in their journey to Canaan but only dissipating energies going around Mount Seir. Moses said, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have been going about this mountain country long enough; turn northward’” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3 NKJV).
This message may capture well your present condition: you are an antelope in a net. You may be stagnant in life, experiencing failures. You may be sick and tired of your current situation. You may have done all you know to do but there is no change.
What you need is the help of God; He must intervene in your situation and break the snare; the net that has held you captive must be destroyed and you must be set free.
What you need
You must not give up; you must never cease praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Never stop praying” (NLT). To stop praying is to cooperate with the devil; it is self-sabotage; it is to concede defeat to Satan. “Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler” (Proverbs 6:4-5 NIV). If you will continue to pray fervently, asking for the mercy of God, He will free you from every net. Psalm 91:3a says, “Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare” (NIV).
You must cry to the Lord for deliverance. “My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare” (Psalm 25:15 NIV). Each time the Israelites were under oppression, they cried to the Lord and He delivered them. He said in Exodus 3:7, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows” (NKJV). When Samson cried to God in the net of his enemy, He heard him (Judges 16:28-30).
If you cry to the Lord, your story will change. Yes, your name will change. You will no longer be an antelope in a net but ‘Naphtali’! “Naphtali is a deer let loose” (Genesis 49:21a NKJV). The Easy-to-Read Version says, “Naphtali is like a deer running free.” Your antelope will be let loose. Your destiny shall be loosed and run! You will become all that God wants you to be.
Jacob knew that he still lacked something despite receiving his father’s blessing and having material possessions. Therefore, he was determined to get what he lacked as he looked forward to meeting his brother whose blessing from their father he had deceived him to get. That night, as he was alone, a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When He saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, He touched the socket of his hip and it was out of joint. He told Jacob to let him go but he replied that he would not let Him go unless He blessed him. After asking for Jacob’s name, He said that he would no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for he had struggled with God and with men, and had prevailed (Genesis 32:24-28). Jacob acknowledged that the Man he wrestled with was God, not an ordinary man (verse 29).
As you deal with your condition in prayer and fasting, God will show you mercy and change your name, as He did for Jacob. He will change your story as He did for Elizabeth. “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren” (Luke 1:36 NKJV).
Conclusion: If you desire true deliverance from the net you are in now and want your ‘antelope’ to be free and begin to run, I urge you to:
- Repent of and confess every sin that may have put you in the net of the enemy and receive God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Obey Him henceforth (1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:19).
- Ask Him to have mercy on you and release your feet from the enemy’s net.
- Pray that God will deliver you from the net of the enemy you may be in currently.
- Destroy the net and the power of the enemy that has kept you in the same spot in life and limited you.
- Command your destiny to run with divine speed.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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