Freed From Exile

 See, I will bring them from the land of the north
    and gather them from the ends of the earth.
Among them will be the blind and the lame,
    expectant mothers and women in labor;
    a great throng will return.
 They will come with weeping;
    they will pray as I bring them back. (Jeremiah 31:8-9a)

These verses were originally written to the Jewish people who had been taken into exile. These ancient Jews were promised they would return to their homeland, and they did. But it was only a temporary relief. For they would be scattered again.

The text applies to Christians too, because the Hebrew Bible has many sneak previews of Christ and Christianity. Before we believed, we too were in exile…we were not living in the spiritual homeland God intended for us. We needed rescue by Jesus, the King of the Jews, because we were enemies of God and separated from God.

Many of the returnees in the Jeremiah verses above had serious physical challenges. It seems easier for them in their weakness to see their need for God. Yet, without Jesus Christ, even the most fit people are, in a real sense, “blind and lame.” They may think they are strong and self-sufficient, telling God “I don’t need help, thanks.”

I do have a warning for you today: You might not be as powerful and self-sufficient as you think you are. Consider what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel. He had been warned by a prophecy against being self-sufficient — but his failure to respond brought consequences:

Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:29-30)

Because of that arrogance, he lost his sanity and “was driven from men and did eat grass as ox” (Daniel 4:33) [i]

Finally, though, because of God’s mercy, Nebuchadnezzar was able to recover, leading to a huge change of heart:

 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:37)

Do you feel rich and powerful? God requests you to acknowledge dependency on him. And lest you think I am claiming that I have it all together, I haven’t arrived. I know I always need a daily renewal of my own heart. So this post is for all of us.

Would you rather enjoy life to the fullest as you admit that God really is the King … or live on your own and go through what Nebuchadnezzar went through, wasting your time as if you were eating grass?

[i]Today this is a known psychological disorder.

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