Bread – Exile

April 8, 2013


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What does it mean to be exiled, to be banned? We tend to associate exile with places or geography. But exile as well may be a departure from what is important to us, or at least what we claim in important. For example, in the first instance, if I am locked out of my apartment because I have not paid my rent, I am exiled to the street. If, on the other hand, I have been temporarily excluded from family affairs because of bad behavior, I am in a form of exile, of expulsion from particular relationships until I am restored.

So, when Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden, they were exiled in two different ways. First, they were ejected from the Garden. Second, they lost their dependent relationship upon God.

We have both examples today in our readings. In Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar defeats Jerusalem and takes certain children away from Jerusalem and put them in his own home. Daniel was one of these children. Clearly, these children were exiled from Jerusalem, their home, and taken by force to a place not of their choosing. This was not just a different place geographically, but a different place religiously, economically, politically, and socially. This was complete physical exile.

In 1 John, John describes that, when we walk in the light of God, we have fellowship with one another. When we are exiled from the light into the darkness, that relationship disappears. Here the place of exile is not a physical location but the place of the soul. When we exile ourselves from God’s grace and his light, we exile ourselves from each other.

Using these ideas, it seems apparent that we often are in exile, either through our actions or the actions of others. We are often deprived of the benefits of hope, joy, security, effectiveness, love, safety, and home, sometimes by what others do but often by what we do to ourselves.

When this happens, what are we to do? All of Scripture today addresses this question. In Daniel, when Daniel and his friends are offered the king’s food, they decline and ask for vegetables so that they might not be “defiled.” What this teaches is that when we are in exile, we can still remember what God has told us and taught us, that He loves us, that His plan for us is perfect, that His ways are true, that His laws deserve obedience, that His way is the way. While we are in exile, we may do the best we can and yet still honor God, treasure His Word, rest in His grace and protection, and rely on His power. In 1 John, when we find ourselves walking in darkness after having exiled ourselves from the light, we can confess our sins, and when we do “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 Jn. 1:9 By implication, we are then restored to the light. In the gospel account of John, we are reminded that, though we may be in exile, it is temporary because those whom God has given to Jesus Christ are not lost by Him – “I [Jesus] have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” Jn. 17:12b

Are you feeling in exile today, either physically or emotionally? Are you separated from home, family, friends? Do you feel separated from Christ? Do you feel that you have wandered off the path in a form of self-exile? No matter. Recall who you are and whose you are. Bloom wherever you are planted, so that the grace and love of God may appear in you to others. Confess your sin, so that you may be restored to the light. Walk in the ways of holiness, in the ways of God and not of man. Remember that Christ died so that you might live in whatever circumstances and that He is praying a prayer before the Father something like this – “I [Jesus] am praying for them [you]. I am not praying for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” Jn. 17:9 If you have been saved by grace, by the sovereign will and act of God, then it does not matter where you are or what state you are in, because you are His.

And what that means is simply that, though we be separate in distance or feeling, we are never separate in fact. When we are Christ’s we are never in exile.

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© 2013 GBF

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