Summary: If our Almighty God has always reserved his best and interestingly even his worst for the last, it is to birth in us two responses…of penitence and patience.
OF PENITENCE AND PATIENCE!!!
First things first. What is the chief and highest end of man? Let the revered Christian Book namely the Westminster catechism give the answer. Man's chief and highest end is to glorify (worship) God, and fully to enjoy him forever. When it comes to glorifying Him and fully enjoying Him, let it be said that the entire exercise ought to be “absolutely genuine emanating right from the innermost core of one’s being (read spirit)”. This would lead to the next question, how could the process of glorifying Him originate right from the depths of one’s heart? It is only possible, when a person is truly fascinated by His unique traits. Remember, worshipping God for WHAT HE IS, is the highest form of worship, standing head and shoulders above other forms of worship, which come with strings attached, such as worshipping Him for the blessings, He showers upon us. While on the subject, at this stage, it would serve us well to look at the synonym of the word “Glorify”, which is “Magnify”. When, one magnifies Him, that is to say, when one keenly observes His Divine nature, with a magnifying glass, as it were, the “spiritual explorer” (if you permit me to use this expression) in you is bound to come across several unique attributes of the Almighty, which would evoke awe, and in turn lead to spontaneous, heart-felt worship and praise.
In this message punctuated with…what else… “Hallelujahs” (incidentally Hallel in Hebrew language means To praise and Yah means God) I would like to bring before my readership, one definite attribute in the Almighty, which at once evokes awe in me that is …He is (as the above-captioned Scripture emphasizes) an unchanging God.
A close examination of our changeless Heavenly Father’s ways would underscore one fundamental truth again and again. That is if our Almighty God has always reserved his best and interestingly even his worst for the last, it is to birth in us two responses…of penitence and patience.
Action: Display of the Map depicting a) From and b) To places of total Jewish Exile...
Let’s take the Jewish exile as a case in point. The closer scrutiny of events related to the Jewish exile from the Promised Land as a result of their constant disobedience to God would reveal that it (exile) took place in four phases. Did not the good Lord warn our counterparts of the OT Dispensation even before the Conquest of Canaan that their stay in the Promised Land and their enjoyment of it would depend on His obedience to Him (Deu 28)?
I) Northern Israel: In 722 BC by the Assyrians’, after the idolatrous people of Israel (10 Tribes) had paid a deaf ear to several warnings of exile from committed prophets like Hosea, Amos and Micah
II) Southern Judah: By the Babylonians’, who by then had usurped the Assyrians’ as the World’s numero uno among Nations’ (especially those of the “Fertile Crescent”)
a) Political – Daniel 1:1-4 - during which the Royals and the political class were exiled in 606 BC. To this group belonged the death-defying terrific trio…Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego
b) Economical- 2 Kings 24:16 -during which the craftsmen and the business class were exiled in 597 BC
c) Universal- 2 Kings 25:8-9 -during which everyone including the Judean King were exiled in 586 BC. The prestigious Jerusalem Wall was demolished and the Temple in which many Jews prided ( built by King Solomon) was burnt …very much in conformity with the Lord’s warnings (1 Kings 8:6-9). All these after fervent pleas’ of that zealous Prophet Jeremiah to repent and come back to the God-honoring “straight path” had been stone-walled by the hard-hearted Judeans’ of his generation.
The batch-wise exile reinforces’ the fact that God was giving an opportunity to His chosen ones’ to repent and seek Him in order their punishment is limited. Doubtless, a loving God would never want a massacre of His loved ones’ laced with destruction of His either beloved city or His magnificent temple. But was there a reciprocal response from His select nation to His lenience? Was the first comeuppance adequate to make His special people make amends in their lifestyle? NO! His people sadly stuck to their stubborn ways despite several warnings of Prophet Jeremiah (I reiterate) of a more serious indictment coming their way. Finally the somber record of II Chronicles 36:14-20 stands as a grim reminder of the fact of what would happen when we foolishly exhaust His patience for in that is a heart- rending account of a ruthless destruction sweeping across of what was once a proud capital of a God-honoring nation. This paved the way for the “universal” exile of those who survived (very few did ) the onslaught of an all powerful Babylonian war machine spurred on by God’s Divine wrath. Just as God’s best is reserved for the last (John 2:10) for those who love him (Rev 21-23), His worst too is reserved for the last for those who forsake Him relentlessly (Rev 19:17-21, Rev 20:14-15)!!! Ask the hard-hearted Egyptian Pharoah, who had to bear the ignominy and pain of losing his first-born (Exo 12:29-30), when he did not humble himself after receiving a few divine blows initially…