Ezek. 28:25 ¶ Thus says the Lord GOD: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall settle on their own soil that I gave to my servant Jacob.
Humanity was to be a reflection of God in this world. The children of Israel had so completely turned their back on God and given themselves over to idol-worship that the true God, Yahweh, could never been found among them. They were to be an evangelistic people, drawing the rest of the world to Yahweh. Instead, they prostituted themselves with the gods of their enemies. Now, they were going to suffer at the hands of their enemies spending years in exile. However, the exile was not simply a punishment, but it was to become a time of cleansing. It was during the exile that they would become a monotheistic people once again. In the midst of their trials and difficulties they would realize that there is none other than Yahweh! And while living as foreigners in a nation far away, they would turn to the one true God who would cleanse them and unite them as a people.
Finally, we read the promise here about the end of the exile. God's people would be gathered back home in the promised land -- and when they came home, they would be different. God's holiness would be manifested in them. They would again be a reflection of the living God and his holiness would shine from them, drawing all the peoples' of the world toward God. The people of God would once again be restored so that they could fulfill the purpose for which God had called them -- to manifest the holiness of God to a world headed toward destruction and corruption.
This is God's promise for an entire nation, but it is also a promise for us today. Since the coming of Christ we have all been grafted into God's family. We are God's holy people -- created to be a reflection of him in the world. On a personal level it is we who have rejected him by turning to other gods. No, we may not bring in the types of idols that the Israelites brought into their homes and worshipped, but I believe that we have allowed other things to become our gods. They may seem to be good things, but if we step back and look at it, anything that becomes an obstacle to God being reflected in our lives has become a god for us.
Does God need to send us into exile to rid us of these gods? It just may be that we have to go through difficult days to realize that there is none other that we need in this life but the one true God. And after we have completed our time in exile, God will welcome us back home and establish us in the place where we belong. Once again the holiness of God will be manifested in and through us, for this is the very purpose for which we have been created. Holiness is not an option. Holiness is the very nature of God reflected in you and me as we are his faithful servants in the world. So, if we find ourselves in a wilderness or exile, let's let go and allow God to use this time to refine and restore us into the people he intended for us to be.
Lord, sometimes it hurts to be in exile, but may your refining work be done! Amen.