2 Kings 25:21. And the king of Babylon struck [the priests] down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.
Israel was given everything it needed to be a glorious kingdom holy unto the Lord. They had God’s law, God’s prophets, and even God’s presence. But over the course of time, beginning with Solomon, the heart of the king, and the heart of the people with it, was drawn away from God. Solomon’s cruelty would split his once peaceful kingdom into two nations: Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Twenty kings later, the nation of Israel will be conquered by the Assyrian empire and absorbed into history. And twenty kings later the nation of Judah would be conquered by the Babylonians and taken into exile.
The people of Judah must have felt like they were not only losing their land but also their God. The Temple has been burned by King Nebuchadnezzar. The priests have been executed. Surely God has abandoned them.
Do you ever feel like this? Like you’re living in exile? Like you’ve been carried off into a foreign land without connection, without hope, maybe even without God?
But the exile of Judah to Babylon teaches us a very important lesson – God is not confined to any one place. He is not limited to any land. His presence is not restricted to a temple. God will go with Judah into their exile. He will never leave them or forsake them. He will never give up on them. And he will restore them. He will keep all his promises to their father David: A house forever. A throne forever. A kingdom forever. And he will keep all his promises to their father Abraham: Land forever. Blessing for all nations. And an offspring who will rescue them.
Like his tribe before him, Jesus was sent into exile for us. Christ allowed himself to be carried off outside of Jerusalem, into the slavery of the cross. The true Temple of God was torn apart in death. The true Priest of God was murdered by his captors.
But far worse, Jesus entered into an exile that even the Jews did not. Unlike Judah, on the cross and in his humanity Jesus WAS separated from God. He was forsaken. He was abandoned. He felt the full wrath of God’s love for all mankind and righteous indignation against sin.
But Christ was exiled from God so that we would never have to be. And then, by the power of his resurrection, his cross became his coronation. His defeat became his victory.
Do you feel like you’re in exile today? It’s for good reason. In a very real sense we, the church, are in a physical exile. We aren’t “home” yet. We are strangers in a strange land. Wanderers in the wilderness. Longing to see our Savior face to face. Suffering as we wait for his glorious appearing.
But “to live is Christ” means all who are in Christ have been brought out of the exile of death and into the promised land of his eternal life. Now, in Christ, we never have to feel disconnected from God again, even in our earthly exile, for Christ has joined his life to ours. He has made his home in our hearts. He has defeated our captors, sin and death. He has restored our community. He has planted us in the land of his love and indwelt us as his holy Temple. Now, in Christ, we are never alone. Never forsaken. Never separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Do you ever feel exiled from God?
You in Christ
Jesus was separated from God so that you never have to be. How does this truth strengthen your heart?
Christ in you
How can you display the hope of Christ today in your exile?
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