Exile and Faithfulness—The Greatest Story

Isaiah 43:1-7 (NIV)

 But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cushand Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.  I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

What do you see as the greatest story ever told? For me, the greatest story began with creation. Then when God made a covenant with us. Then there was liberation. Then freedom for the Israelites from Egypt.

When we look at how the people lived in the promised land, we see that they decided that they needed kings to rule over them. Some kings were good and some were bad.

We know that faithfulness is necessary. However, some had faith some didn’t some were faithful and some weren’t. Because there was no balance, the destroyers entered. And when the destroyers entered, people became enslaved just like the prophets told them would happen if they didn’t stay faithful.

Socialism: here’s how Merriam-Webster defines it: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; a system of society or group living in which there is no private property; a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism) Nowhere in that definition do we read equality for everyone. This is the condition (this socialistic condition) in which the Israelites found themselves under the rule of Egypt.

Can you imagine all you have being taken away from you? Would you find yourself calling out, “Where is God? Why isn’t He here helping us?” It certainly begs the question, “How can we worship God if He’s going to abandon us in our time of need?”

Man in despair.
Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Enter the prophets. They gave them a way out. They helped them see how they came to be exiled. We wonder where we are when exiled and wonder where we go from there.

It’s kind of like losing a loved one or losing a job or going through a divorce or suffering from an addiction. It’s a matter of loss that turns into a matter of disorientation. We all go through these different stages of life. If you’ve been through all or one of these things you can see how these people felt.

Isaiah uses these words:

  1. Remember – who you are
  2. Fear not – I have called you by name you are mine
  3. You’re valued by God.
Don't give up. You're not alone. You matter.
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Have you ever thought of the awesomeness of God calling you by name? I’m not sure I could even get my brain around God saying my name—Regina. I know He most likely shakes His head in distress over some of my actions. Remember, when we’re baptized, we’re reminded by the water that we are children of God. But if you’re in exile you don’t remember you are a child of God. Isaiah reminds people that God is with them. He’s with them when they pass through the waters and the rivers. He won’t let those obstacles overwhelm them. He’s with them when they walk through the fire. Never allowing it to burn or consume them.

The God of the New and Old Testament is the same. He is steadfast in His love. He will never let you go. If you know God is with you it will change your life. God will make a way for each of us to go from disorientation back to normality. He’ll take us back to what we know as truth.

Remember who you are and whose you are. God does His best work when we find ourselves in exile. I know it’s hard to see that when you’re in the thick of things, but He’s there. God leads us forward in a hope-filled life.

God is always for us and never against us.

Boy praying with Bible.
Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!