Exiles





Scripture

“Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, And I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, Among them the blind and the lame, The woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; A great company, they will return here.
(Jeremiah 31:8 NASB)
“With weeping they will come, And by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, On a straight path in which they will not stumble; For I am a father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.”
(Jeremiah 31:9 NASB)
Thus says the LORD, “A voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.”
(Jeremiah 31:15 NASB)
“There is hope for your future,” declares the LORD, “And your children will return to their own territory.
(Jeremiah 31:17 NASB)
And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
(1 John 4:21 NASB)

 

Observation


The children of Israel had spent years living in the captivity of Babylon, and yet, God had not forgotten them. The refugees would be heading home. They had suffered over the years and they were scattered. They had suffered physical abuse and yet, they were going home. The wounds of the past would cause them to weep but little by little healing would come. The water would provide strength, cleansing and healing. The new path laid before them was straight -- no longer would they have to stumble and fall along the way. Not only was the path straight, but it was safe -- security was provided. Babies had been lost along the way but God reminded the people that there truly was a hope for the future. But the future hope included a people who were filled with the Holy Spirit, loving God and loving neighbor for the law would be written on their hearts. God's plan for the hope of the future was a people moved with compassion to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in exile.

 

Application


Humanity has a long history of cruelty. I've been reading Madeline Albright's book, "Prague Winter" with its vivid descriptions of the second world war from the perspective of the Czech people. Just when they thought the war was over, the victors came and overran their country. The Soviet soldiers in their victory celebration plundered homes, and raped women, sometimes with the blessing of their supervising officers. The spoils of war were theirs to take and no longer were people seen as humans, but as possessions.

Today I head out on a journey to Kenya, where there are a great many dispossessed people as a result of famine. However, if we study history we discover that many famines are man-made. In today's world famine is often the result of corruption and power struggles. Food becomes a commodity which purchases power and therefore is used as a device of manipulation. It can also be the result of war, as the fighting makes agriculture impossible, or closes trade routes. In the midst of it all are the powerless who become mere things. Often these are the women and children who become victimized and abused. But what is the response of those whose hearts have been changed by the infilling of the Holy Spirit? There is now no longer a heart of stone, but a heart of flesh, one which loves God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. The outflow of that love is a love for humanity which moves us to action. What is that action? Sometimes we don't know but we cry out to God in a willingness to respond and then he opens the doors of response.

I'm praying for the exiles who are currently in northern Kenya and for a little team of individuals whom God has joined together to try and make a difference. The journey is just beginning, but God has already paved the way and we are grateful. I look forward to learning from God along the way.

 

Prayer


Lord, I pray that you will lead us and be with us in this journey to Kenya. Please, help me to have an open heart to all you want me to see and to learn along the way. Amen.

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