Tuesday, December 20, 2016

oppression, longing, & deliverance

And he burned the house of the Lord and the king's house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.
2 Kings 25:9-10

With the trauma of the fall of Jerusalem the punishment of the Babylonian exile set in for the Jews in Judah. All the residents of Jerusalem that survived the siege were led away to Babylon, all weeping with the painful memories of dead loved ones, burned homes, a destroyed and ransacked temple, and broken down city walls. It was a painful time with little hope.

But we look back on the biblical account and realize that God cared for His people by the Exile. He kept them safe, and as the book of Daniel recounts, many Jews thrived in the captivity. In Babylon (and later Persia) they would rise to positions of prominence. Among them were Daniel, Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah. They would obey God and by kept until he was ready to return them to their land again. They would serve as priests, prophets, queens, and court officials. And the Jews would emerge from their captivity with a stronger commitment to God and His Law and with a real, new hope.

They'd come back with Messianic hope. Once back in their land, the Jews would create thriving cities again, but would stay politically weak, eventually to be dominated by Alexander the Great, and then by Rome. But even these events could not diminish the hope of a Messiah to come Who would lead them back to the glory of David's reign.

It was to this culture that God sent His Son. Jesus was born to a people under oppression. He was born to a nation aware that they were not truly free. And He would show them the first freedom and the best deliverance was from sin's tyranny. The oppressed and the oppressors would turn against Him, but only to ultimately fulfill God's plan. Jesus would deliver us by His death and resurrection, and God would use oppression and longing to bring about deliverance.

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