Have you ever been lost or alone? How did you feel?
God’s chosen people, the Hebrews, also called the Israelites, have been through some really hard times. Do you remember how the Israelites were slaves in Egypt? For over 400 years the people suffered under the rule of the evil Pharaoh until God rescued them and led them to the Promised Land.
In the Promised Land, God’s people were meant to love him, and worship him, and do good. And sometimes they did. Do remember King Solomon? He built God a beautiful temple to live in and be worshiped in. But over time even Solomon stopped worshiping God. And Solomon stopped doing good. Soon the nation of Israel was divided, split into two nations, each with their own king.
The northern nation, still called Israel, would become very evil and God would eventually allow them to be conquered by a wicked empire called Assyria. But the southern nation, called Judah, would still be ruled by David’s sons and grandsons. And God had promised David that he would not let his family be destroyed.
All of the kings of Israel were wicked. But in Judah, some of the kings were good. Some loved and trusted God. But often the kings of Judah were wicked too. So after 500 years of being in the Promised Land, God told Judah that they were going to be punished for their wickedness. They were going to be sent into exile into another country. Exile means being forced to leave your home and safety and go to another place where you are an outsider. For Judah this meant that an evil nation called Babylon would conquer them and take them as slaves to their country. Listen to how the bible describes this terrible time.
2 Chronicles 36:17-21. 17 Therefore [God] brought up against them the king of the Babylonians…19 And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. 20 He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.
God let his people, the nation of Judah, be taken into exile because of their sin. They simply refused to worship and obey God for many years. Sometimes our sin has consequences doesn’t it? Sometimes we have to be punished so that we can see that we are doing something wrong, something that is not loving toward God or toward others.
God let his people be taken into exile for 70 years, but not forever. He didn’t let them be totally conquered and destroyed. In fact, after the 70 years, God let them return to the Promised Land again. Why? Because God always keeps his promises. And God had promised Judah that they would always be his people and that he would always be their God. That they would always be brought back to their land, and that a son of David would be their king again. And God always keeps his promises.
You know, the Exile of Judah didn’t fix our sinfulness did it? So 500 years after the Exile of Judah, Jesus would leave his heavenly home and come to earth to live in exile among us humans. He would come to be our servant and save us from our sin by dying on the cross for us, so that we could one day go to live with God forever where we belong. We weren’t meant to live apart from God, and with Jesus we never have to. For now, while we are in our exile here on earth, Jesus lives inside of us. And one day, just like Judah, we will be allowed to go home to live with God in heaven forever.
Because of Jesus we will live with God forever.
With Jesus I never have to feel like I am all alone.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
To help your children understand exile a bit better you can show them how exile is a part of many stories: Aladdin, Lion King, and Frozen all have an exile theme.
Point out that the happy part of these stories is when people return home where they belong. And that is God’s story with us too. We will be brought home by Jesus to be with God and each other forever.
Thank you for being exiled to earth and saving us from our sins so that we won’t ever have to be exiled from God again. Help me to know I am never alone.
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