Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 30 - Jesus Brings Us Back from Exile

Living Water Community Church - August 30
Jeremiah 52 - “Jesus Brings Us Back from Exile”

Oh! How the city once full of people now sits all alone!
The city who was once a prominent lady among the nations has become a widow!
The princess who once ruled the provinces has become a forced laborer!
The city weeps bitterly at night; tears stream down her cheeks.
She has no one to comfort her among all her lovers.
All her friends betrayed her; they have become her enemies.
Judah has departed into exile under affliction and harsh oppression.
She lives among the nations; she has found no resting place.
All who pursued her overtook her in the middle of her distress.
The roads to the city of Zion mourn because no one travels to the festivals.
All her city gates are deserted; her priests groan.
Her virgins grieve; the city herself is in bitter anguish!
Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease.
For Yahweh afflicted her because of her many acts of rebellion.
Her children went away as captives before the enemy. (Lam 1.1-5)

It is not easy to talk about exile. Perhaps this is one reason why we avoid spending too much time in the parts of our Bible that narrate the exile of God’s people. Exile is a place where we are most lonely, where we are most vulnerable, where we are most without a home. Exile is the place where others take advantage of us, where they force us out of our homes, where they leave us hungry, threaten our lives, and kill our family members. Some of us stay away from these hard passages of scripture because we shudder at the reminder that this experience really could invade our comfortable lives. Some of us here today won’t read these parts of the Bible because they draw up memories that are very real and very painful.

When men with guns and bullets enter our homes, when children are stolen from the streets, when war occupies our cities, when our houses are taken away, when there is not enough food, when we have no option but to uproot our lives and move somewhere else--then all that is left us is to mourn, to lament, and to pray. The passage I read to begin this morning is from the book of Lamentations. It is the Jewish people’s lament over the destruction of their city and an appeal to Yahweh God to do something about it. When we experience exile, this is what we should do.

This morning I want to look at three things. First, we need to look at what happens in Jeremiah chapter 52. Then we’ll ask what this meant for God’s covenant people Israel then--why did this happen? Finally, we’ll talk about what this mean for us as God’s covenant people now.
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