(Bonus points to whoever can pick out the title of this post as a movie quote…Name the movie, and you get a free book from me. The book is about discipleship and making disciples : )
S (Scripture): Jeremiah 27:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah early in the reign of Josiah’s son, King Zedekiah of Judah. 2 The Lord told me, “Make a yoke out of leather straps and wooden crossbars and put it on your neck. 3 Use it to send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon…
6 I have at this time placed all these nations of yours under the power of my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I have even made all the wild animals subject to him. 7 All nations must serve him and his son and grandson until the time comes for his own nation to fall. Then many nations and great kings will in turn subjugate Babylon. 8 But suppose a nation or a kingdom will not be subject to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Suppose it will not submit to the yoke of servitude to him. I, the Lord, affirm that I will punish that nation. I will use the king of Babylon to punish it with war, starvation, and disease until I have destroyed it…
11 Things will go better for the nation that submits to the yoke of servitude to the king of Babylon and is subject to him.
O (Observation): Jeremiah brings an extremely hard word from God. “Subject yourselves!” Really?!?! All we’ve worked towards? All the work of our ancestors? To be laid waste?
And what’s worse? God calls King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon God’s own servant! How dare Jeremiah utter such words!?!?! But the people of the time don’t have the same perspective as we do as 21st century Christians.
A (Application): The people of God were being moved to the end of their capacity. They were now to be subjects of another nation…AGAIN! Remember that little stint in Egypt? I wouldn’t want to go either.
And yet God gets Jeremiah to use a Children’s Sermon illustration: yoke with leather straps. How much clearer can it be, people? But again, my perspective is a bit different.
Though they should have remembered that God would be with them, even in exile.
I’ve experienced my own forms of exile (and still do), and those times were (and still are) very difficult. I have also seen God bring me out of exile, back into a time and place of fruitfulness.
When we are at the end of our capacity (depressed, fired, hurt, grieving…) this is the place in which we truly are depenedent upon God.
And that is also an opportunity to be present for one another, so we can point to signs of God’s faithfulness throughout the ages (or even in our own lives)…while we were in our own “Babylon.”
Our Babylon – our places of despair – may be physical, spiritual, financial, relational, or emotional. In all of these cases, God promises to remain present, and will bring us back “home.”
What is your exile experience, right now? What category: Financial? Emotional? Spiritual? Physical? Relational? Perhaps some combination?
P (Prayer): Lord, our capacity only carries us so far in this world. Bring us the rest of the way…bring us home to you. Amen.