Not Forsaken (17-03-21)
Around the year 600 BC, Israel was besieged by the Babylonians under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar and the Jewish nation, along with its king, was taken into captivity in Babylon, now in southern Iraq. Jeremiah, a prophet in Israel, had prophesied about the exile and now he prophesies about its end.
Bible Reading: Jeremiah 29:10-14
This is what the Lord says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
As we are all too well aware, life does not always go smoothly. The plans we have can be overtaken by circumstances beyond our control and we can end up in a strange and unfamiliar place. In Israel’s case this was exile in Babylon, In Jesus’ case it was forty days in the Wilderness, in our case it is over twelve months of social distancing along with long periods of lockdown; exiles in our own homes.
Sometimes the journey to this strange place is caused by our own mistakes, sometimes it is caused by the actions of others and occasionally it is brought about by God as he unfolds his plans and purposes for our lives. Whatever your experience is of exile and whatever the reasons are for you being in exile in the first place, Jeremiah has good news for you.
Firstly, God can see the beginning form the end; exile is not forever. The Jews returned to Israel and rebuilt their temple and Jesus left the wilderness and stated his ministry. Exile for us, whether it is caused by the pandemic or by something else, will come to an end.
Secondly, God’s plans for us remain unchanged; plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. God's plans for Israel centred around them being his people and him being their God, worshipped in their temple and honoured in their lives. God's plans for you centre around your worship of him and your daily walk with him.
And thirdly, we are not forsaken, God is still with us. God hears us when we call out to him, he listens to us when we pray, and when we seek him, we will find him. He will bring us back from captivity.
Are you aware of times in your life that have felt to you like exile? Can you look back and see God with you in that time? What have you learnt in these times?
Can you also look forward in faith to see a future beyond exile, a future full of hope and blessing?
Thank you God that you are with me in exile.
I place my hope in you for the future.