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Exile(2)

September 21st, 2018
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The exile language is used most explicitly of Jesus. So when you start, you open up the first page of the New Testament, you get to Matthew, and Matthew has this genealogy: the exile is the key. There’s fourteen generations to an exile and there’s fourteen generations from the return of exile to Jesus. And so Jesus comes to a situation where exile is quite important, and he actually comes into that situation and it seems that exile is still actually happening.

So you read in Luke’s Gospel—you read about people who are waiting for the consolation of Israel. And what’s the consolation of Israel? They’re waiting for something like the end of exile.

They’re back in the land, they’re there, but the—one of the key hopes for the end of the exile was that God’s people would be not only in God’s place, but under God’s direct rule. Israel’s not under God’s direct rule. There’s all these other foreign enemies who are in there—supremely the Romans.

They’re not experiencing the great blessings that were promised by Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets that would happen when they came back from exile. So in that sense, they’re still under God’s judgement and still waiting for an end of exile.

Jesus, when he comes, he talks about the kingdom of God being near and the kingdom of God as opposed to—we see this in Daniel—to the kingdoms of the nations being in charge. God is going to be in charge.

And then when Jesus predicts his upcoming death and resurrection, he talks about it in terms of himself being handed over to the Gentiles. And mocked and flogged and killed. So that language of exile is actually used of Jesus. It is like he’s going through the kind of thing that Israel went through when it came to God judging them for their sin.
Jesus is under God’s judgement. Jesus is suffering that curse, which is actually described in terms of exile. So he actually by suffering that curse—that judgement of God—he actually takes that upon himself and he brings about the kingdom of God.

The end of Israel’s exiled state is when God is actually in charge fully, and it is actually also in the Old Testament when new creation would happen: God would bring about his entire new creation. He would bring an end to sin, an end to death, he would bring about resurrection, he’d bring about new creation.

And that is what happens in Jesus: in Jesus —there is new creation. Jesus is raised from the dead: he’s resurrected, he has a whole new body not subject to death, he himself is actually God’s kingdom and has brought it in but only in himself.

Only for one man—only for Jesus. In him and in that fully physical sense, God has brought about a completely fully physical new creation, but only in Jesus. He is the first fruits.

So the physical new creation, the end of exile, experiencing all of God’s blessings happens to Christ.

But as we continue to read the New Testament and as we see in the Gospels as well, we can actually be part of that not by by political means, not by belonging to some ethnic group or nation. But we become part of it through God’s Spirit and his Word bringing us to have faith in Jesus Christ – to truly believe in him.

The Bible talks about us actually being in Christ, it says, and in 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “Whoever’s in Christ, new creation!” That’s the literal translation. That is, new creation is actually whenever someone is in Christ, and we are in Christ by his word and his Spirit. So, in that sense, we ourselves are in that new creation—end of judgement, end of exile.

So in Christ, we’re part of the new creation—we’re home. We’re in the place we really belong. The exile is totally over for him, and if we’re in him—if we’re united to him by faith and in the Spirit—then it’s over for us as well. Of course, it’s not over completely and totally for us: we’re in that new creation by faith and by the Spirit, not by sight.

But we have to be careful in saying that we’re in exile here and now, because in Christ, we no longer are in exile: we’re home. We experience this so strongly in prayer. It is a taste of our future home life.

There is a powerful promise is made in John14:1-4

1 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.’

However the Christian life reflects a paradox.

In one sense Jesus bring his home life to this earth so we can see his fellowship with the Father in the Spirit. But also it says he became flesh like one of us and joined our tabernacling, in our exile.

We hear that he is promising that the home life we have seen in him will become fully ours when he returns.

So can we say Christians are in exile? Most of us, truth be told, live pretty comfortable, settled, suburban lives, in the country that we were born in or chose to adopt as our own. The circumstances of our daily lives could hardly be more different from those endured by people who have been forcibly displaced from homeland and family.

But if we are readers of the New Testament then we will know that exile language can be used metaphorically as well as literally. Occasionally, within the pages of the New Testament, we meet examples of men and women who are exiles in the literal sense of the word – John on the island of Patmos, for example (Rev 1:9), or Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth (Acts 18:2).

But what about the average settled Christian living in his homeland?

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Message for the Day

Exile (1)

September 21st, 2018
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To introduce the concept of Exile please watch the Bible Project on Exile by clicking  here.

This raises important discussions about the relationship of the Christian as he waits for the coming of Jesus Christ.

“How are we to be in the world but not of the world?” In other words, how much are we to be in or engaged in the culture and in our community and in what goes on in our world, and how much are we to withdraw and separate ourselves from the world and regard ourselves as outsiders? on earth?

And what is the most important work of the church?

Is the idea of a Christian being in exile helpful?

Some interpret it to mean that the hostility we are increasingly facing from our culture is only what we should expect if this world is not our home— we don’t belong here, we’re in exile here. And the best we can therefore do is to hunker down or circle the wagons or whatever metaphor you wish to employ.

Now, there’s another view that takes a completely opposite view—that rather than withdrawing or in any way of being afraid of our culture or our society as exiles living within it, we should instead be like the exiles of Jeremiah 29’s day

Jeremiah 29:4-7

4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’

We should—“Seek the welfare of the city, where I have sent you into exile.”

So should we define ourselves like the exiles in Babylon or is that misreading the context of the instruction?

From the video we see that exile had certain characteristics in the OT.

The Bible contains the stories of the people of God when they lost all. People torn away from their land, torn up as a people, and torn down by humiliating loss. This is the meaning of the exile in the last sections of the Old Testament in which Israel in the north is destroyed by the Assyrian empire, and Judah in the south is taken into exile by the Babylonians.

Exile is an Old Testament concept is centred on the removal of God’s people Israel from their land because they sinned and under God’s judgement. That’s the basic idea of exile. Exile has to do with God’s judgement on his people. It has to do with being away from their land as well—away from their place.

So part of his judgement is removing them from Israel to the surrounding nations so that they’re no longer under his kingship directly—they’re not longer under his rule—they’re not God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule. They’re more like God’s people outside of God’s place and under God’s rule over all, but actually under someone else’s rule and, not directly God’s rule.

There’s other ways that the Bible talks about that actually using exile kind of language. So, for example, way back in Genesis chapter 3, where the man and the woman sin against God, they’re in the Garden of Eden, and God drives them out from the Garden of Eden as a judgement for their sin, so they no longer have access to the Tree of Life. That is actually exile kind of language as well.

So exile is one way of talking about the human problem of the fact that we’re all under judgement, that we all now live outside the garden, all no longer under God’s rule in God’s place as God’s people.

The exile is tragedy, but it is matched by the hopeful story of the return of God’s people to the land described in Ezra and Nehemiah, and in the last three books of the Old Testament, the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Even before the destruction of Israel and the exile of Judah happened, the prophets spoke of eventual restoration.

Indeed, some 70 years after Jerusalem was emptied and the temple was destroyed, the leader of a new dominant empire, Cyrus of Persia, decreed that Jews be allowed to return to their land and begin a process of reconstruction. The book of

Nehemiah documents reconstruction of the city; the book of Ezra, the reconstruction of the spiritual life of the people.

In the story of the return of the Jews, we see the central importance of worship as the people begin sacrificing again on the site of the old temple, the importance of the Word of God as Ezra reads the book of the Law in the hearing of all the people, the importance of moral leadership.

We also see in the return the unchanging covenant of God, the central theme of the Old Testament. Through Ezra and others, the people rediscover the Book of God, and through it they remember the God of creation, of the covenant with Abram, of the deliverance in the exodus, of the land.

And all of this in spite of the disobedience and unfaithfulness of the people. This is God then, and God now.

They are looking to their home life which is with God – pictured by the restored temple.

How does this idea of exile, yearning for our home life work in the Christian story?

Message for the Day

John8(4c) – Our Freedom In Christ

September 20th, 2018
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For us to enter this true freedom, we need two things: We need God’s liberating truth and we need God’s liberating grace.

The crown of creation is the human creature. God from the beginning gave us freedom and therefore we are responsible beings. That freedom is such that it allows us to one day become increasingly conformed to the divine will and nature, and thus to enjoy an ever growing fellowship with our Creator.

Lets quickly rehearse some fundamentals:

1. God created all people to participate through the humanity of Jesus Christ in the love relationship enjoyed by the Father, Son and Spirit.

2. The Son became human, the man Jesus Christ, to reconcile all humanity to God through his birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension.

3. The crucified, resurrected and glorified Jesus is the representative and the substitute for humanity at the right hand of God, and he draws all people to himself by the power of the Holy Spirit.

4. In Christ, humanity is loved and accepted by the Father.

5. Jesus Christ paid for all our sins – past, present and future – and there is no longer any debt to pay.

6. The Father has in Christ forgiven all our sins, and he eagerly desires that we turn to him.

7. We can enjoy his love only when we believe that he loves us. We can enjoy his forgiveness only when we believe he has forgiven us.

8. When we respond to the Spirit by turning to God, believing the good news and and following Jesus, the Spirit leads us into the new life of the kingdom of God.

The God of the Bible, who, in his own divine freedom, has created a truly free universe with truly free people.

But he exercises his awesome creativity and wisdom continually, because, in spite of sinning and rebellious humans, he does bring about his purpose for them. Paul used himself as proff of this.

In his covenant faithfulness, he is constantly bringing good out of evil and light out of darkness ..

The God of the Bible does not force anyone to trust him. He doesn’t remove anyone’s freedom to refuse him. Yet, he is infinitely creative in his means of knocking on the doors of our human castles, inviting, even urging, us to invite him in.

This is the God who became one of us in Jesus Christ.

Notice again how Jesus defines our slavery.

John 8:34

Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

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Message for the Day