Have you ever been exiled? I know, not a word we use in everyday speech so here is the Merriam-Webster definition:
Full Definition of exile
- 1a: the state or a period of forced absence from one’s country or home 1b : the state or a period of voluntary absence from one’s country or home
- 2: a person who is in exile
Last week, in my post 3 small simple words, I briefly mentioned Jeremiah 29:11. It was in reference to popular verses in the Bible. Let’s zoom out and start at the beginning of the chapter. Here are the first 3 verses:
“1This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2(This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:”
Can we put ourselves in the place of the Israelites? They were not in their homeland. And I don’t think they were camping for the weekend either! Check out the map;
They most likely had feelings of anger, frustration, fatigue and a whole host of others. And to top it off, they knew they were God’s chosen people! How could God let this happen!?!? Did he not love them enough to destroy the enemy and bring them home? Of course God can do it for he can do anything. But that is not the point. The people of God were exiled because the rebelled against God. Sin was the reason. We see this pattern in the Old Testament frequently. The people of God rebel and backslide. Bad things happen. Then, through a leader, judge, prophet or an event, the people humble themselves and God restores them. In this particular instance, God uses the exile to discipline the Israelites.
Fast forward to 2016. Are you in a state of exile? Are you far from your home? I am not really speaking literally now although that could be the case. Is your heart far from God? Do you feel as if you are living under the control of an evil ruler? Is your life forced upon you rather than you living free?
You see, sin will exile you from God. It separates us, the created, from God, our Creator. Our choices can affect our standing with God. We can consistently choose to keep sin between us and God. That is living in exile. There are also times, perhaps, when we are the victim of other people’s choices. Life clocks us up side the head. More feelings of exile. Overall, living in exile seems to be more common than living in true freedom!
So what do we do? If I find I am living in exile, what can I do? The answer will have to wait until next week. but I do have one final thought for you.
Verse 4 says, “4This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:”
Read it again.
One more time.
“to all those I carried…”
Even when sin or circumstance sends you into exile, God is really not that far off. In fact, if God did not want you to be in exile He could stop it. But he loves us so much that He gave us free will. We get to choose whether or not we will love Him or hate Him. Serve Him or deny Him.
His arms are big. He can carry the entire human race. We just need to choose Him and not exile.
Be encouraged, God loves you. Until next week.