Exiled! part 2

The Israelites. Yes, those ancient people who always seemed to be going in circles. One day they are serving God with all of their heart. The next day, we might find them building an altar to a foreign god. They are hot and then they are cold. Repentant and rebellious almost in the same breath.

Does that not describe us as well? Sorry to say it but I think it does.

It is one of these hard-heart moments that we find the Israelites being exiled. Sent away to Babylon. Even carried by God! See my last post, Exiled! part 1 to get an idea about being carried by God especially if you are facing great tribulations.

They have now been transplanted to another country. The landscape is different. The smells are confusing. The language is unintelligible. The people are uncaring. Even the air is stuffy. They don’t want to be there.

I get it. There are times when I don’t want to be where I am either. Bad job? Sinful habits? Rough marriage? Rebelling kids? Depressed? In a word, exiled.

And all you want to do is escape!

Although I do not consider myself a history buff, I do have a working knowledge of the timeline and main events of World War II. I especially like to read/watch things about prisoners. My particular favorite are stories about Colditz. Colditz was a Nazi prison. But not just any prison, it was a castle. Here are a few random pictures from the web;

colditz 2colditz 3colditz 4

That last one has props and other things used in various escape attempts.

It fascinates me every time I think about the extent to which these men went to escape! They created german uniforms. They dug tunnels. They bribed guards. They made ropes from bed sheets. They even built an airplane!!!

colditz glider

Although it never flew, the Colditz glider was certainly the most extravagant attempt to escape.

I wonder if any of the Israelites ever went to such lengths to escape Babylon?

Maybe I am speculating here so before I say anything else, let’s see what the Bible says. We can pick it up in verse 5 of Jeremiah 29.

5“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 

They were supposed to be there and settle themselves. God wanted them to stay, not flee. Build, not destroy. Plant, not uproot. Increase, not decrease. Pray, not grumble.

I don’t know exactly how these words were received but I am sure it was not with great joy and celebration! It can be super difficult to trust God in these situations. We want to get out. But God says wait on me. We want to run free but God says stay here.

Waiting on God usually means working.

BUT God is faithful. He knows the end game here. More on that next week.

So for now, take a deep breath and get to work. Plant, build, settle. Put effort into your current situation instead of holding out for the future. Get to work!

Waiting does not mean sitting on your butt doing nothing. You only do that if you are at the bus stop.




Exiled! part 1

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

  1. 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. 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;

exile route

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.