Summary: As the Exile of Israel ends in God’s Glorious Triumph over Assyria & Babylon and the Continuation of His Purpose in His ELECT so the Exile of Humanity Ends in God’s Glorious Triumph of the Cross and the Return of the Presence of God to the Heart of Mankin
Today’s message is entitled “Returning form Hurrication: Returning from Exile.” It is time to go home; it is always good to be home! The last three years has left it tracks on us. We are discovering this more and more as times go on. On a human sense, it’s very clear that we are ready to be home, but in a spiritual sense I really want to ask us are we ready? Are we ready to return? This church may have been on pause. We’ve had to learn to do things differently. In a very real way we have been in exile. Exile communicates our experience as a church in general and as individuals in particular. Our experiences represent our patterns of life. God is into the patterns of life; God has patterns that He has created for us. Whether that involves worship, routines, sunrise, and seasons God has established patterns. When patterns of life get interrupted they bring something into our lives that can be very profitable yet challenging.
God’s people after 70 years of exile begin to come back home. Zerubbabel leads the first of three waves of God’s people returning from exile to home began in 535 BC; Ezra and Nehemiah years later leads the second and third waves of people from exile to home. They return from exile; albeit, not everyone came back home. Returning from exile was basically returning to the promise land. God had made promises and he had arranged for his people and those in exile were outside of that now. They were returning to the promises of God. Going back to the place where God wanted them.
There are lessons we need to learn in context of what they were learning; we too are returning to the place, patterns, relationships, ministries, vocations, where God has called us to. We too are in a state of returning; we are a returning people. We are returning to the place where we were. We are returning to the patterns God has given us. We are returning to the days of ministry, vision, direction, and impact. And what it means to be a local body of Christ at a particular time and particular place on assignment from God and being members of that same body. We are returning to a place. I don’t believe that our experiences here over the last 3 years parallels that of God’s people in 605 BC but yet I do think there are aspects of being exiled and returning that we need to benefit from. We need to be prepared for going back.
Because this message is coming primarily from the prophetic texts we need to be prepared for the Lord to bring conviction into the condition of our souls as we consider returning, as we examine our own waywardness, perhaps, that exile may have created in our hearts. And perhaps a good place to start might be our lives before Katrina and now Gustav. The purpose of this is not to bring condemnation or doubt. We are a people of God. This is a place of confidence. This is not a place for insecurity as being the people of God. We should not be squeamish or questioning whether we belong to God or whether God is for us. Oh, but we have failed. Failure should be a squeak amidst the NOISE of ROCKETS BLARING, AGAINST THE NOISE OF WHAT THE CROSS HAS DONE! Are you aware that you have failed? Yes, but the squeak should not be the loudest thing you’ve heard. All the wickedness in this world that man might work or think is no more to the mercy of God than a live coal in the sea.
This message could be a bit uncomfortable to set through. There is a place for uncomfortable conviction but if your discomfort turns into condemnation it may be that you are not benefiting from doctrine in your life. This is what I can’t and won’t do. I will not rescue you from sound doctrine. I will not avoid preaching texts prophetic texts on the grounds that it might hurt someone’s feelings. The BIBLE brings conviction because it is a living and active; it’s trying to speak into my life in a way that is going to have an impact on me. But my sin better be a squeak against the roar of God’s redemption so that we can receive correction without condemnation. Can you invite God to bring some correction without becoming defensive or offended? Are you prepared to let God deal with some barnacles that have grown in your life over the last few years and maybe even before any these hurricanes happened, because God wants you to return to a place of great glory. Can God come to your lives and tell you He wants you to return to something glorious He has promised to you? Are you ready to return to where God wants you to be?