Monday, February 7, 2011

Exiled & Returned

The Story of Scripture: Exiled & Returned 2/6/11
II Chronicles 36:11-23, Jeremiah 30:23-34, Matthew 5:13-20

The Story of Scripture is about home, and finding home again. And again implies that for a season, we were away: Being away might be by choice, wandering or in today’s story: having been kicked out. The theological word for that is “exile”.

Northern Tribe (Israel) exiled in 722BC by the Assyrians, whose practice was to take everyone out and put another conquered people in the land. This is done. The people who lived in the northern land after the people Israel are deported? The Samaritans. That explains a little bit of the jealousy and not getting along.

The Southern Tribe (Judah) exiled in 580’sBC by the Babylonians. There is a famous book by Edward Gibbons called, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Well here, we have the Decline and Fall of the Israelite kingdom. Why and how did it fall?

--political reasons: ironically, the kings of the day had made a political alliance with Egypt, which did not withstand the strength of the Babylonian Empire.

--moral reasons: Zedekiah did evil in the eyes of the Lord (12)
All of the leaders of the people became unfaithful,
following detestable practices of nations around them, defiling the temple. (14)

--spiritual reasons: Z. became stiff necked, and hardened his heart and
would not turn to the Lord (13). Stiff necked & repentance.

--choosing it: the Lord sends messengers again and again

The results of the fall include:

1. material loss (palaces destroyed)
2. aesthetic & historical loss (temple artifacts)
3. loss of life
4. taken away to a new land.

The Babylonian Captivity
--prophesied by Jeremiah
--most famous Babylonian ruler: Nebuchanezzar (Daniel)
--the land has its Sabbath rest.
--life not necessarily worse (Jeremiah had told people: settle down, make a living, raise your family, you ain’t going anywhere)

Persia supplants Babylon.
Cyrus king makes a proclamation
Ezra & Nehemiah: Israelite perspective on return
Persian perspective: Esther

Psalm 126

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations: The LORD has done great things for them. The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev desert.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. The one going out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

After 70 years, home again.

But, while they were away, the vision of Jeremiah the prophet kept them strong, it was an agreement: A vision shared by God for the future

One quick point about this faithful servant: sleep had finally been pleasant for the prophet.

What does God’s vision look like?
23: God’s promise of AGAIN. The people will once again use these words
23: blessing & greeting: The Lord bless you.
24: people, towns, farmers, flocks will be at peace (shalom)
25: those who are hurting will be helped (the weary, the faint)
27: certain: “the days are coming”
28: the faithful God with the people through all their difficulty will be there for the building and planting

29: no more the sins of the fathers visiting their children
31: LOOK: a new agreement
33: God’s teaching on the mind and heart,
I will be their God and they will be my people
No more need for teachers, for all will know.
I will forgive them and remember their sins no more

13: Jesus was salt and light, and when we live for Jesus, we show salt and light to those around us.
17: Jesus fulfills the law: he is the only one who can do it perfectly.
18: living out God’s ways and preserving God’s path (not the smallest pen)
19: moving people toward the greatness of the kingdom of heaven
(Whoever practices these commands will be called great in the koh)
20: a new and demanding righteousness

Home: the search for home is a dominating story in our lives.
It is also our spiritual story.
Part of the story in Scripture was exile.
But part was return.
Through that process, God has made a new agreement.
For you and I, that agreement is found in Jesus Christ.

You are the light of the world. Because Jesus is the light of the world, and you, whether exiled or returned, belong to him.

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