The exile of God’s people from their homeland into captivity in Babylon is one of the most significant events in all of the Old Testament. There are more than 20 books of the Bible centering on this time period of Israel’s history. The ramifications of the exile echo throughout all of Jewish history as well as our own as followers of Jesus.
While this is such an important era in scripture it can often be difficult to grasp because much of the writing around it is poetic and prophetic in nature. We can find ourselves either confused or bored when we come to books like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. But the prophetic books of the exile and the narrative around the event are full of truth and beauty.
With the significance of exile in the history of the Christian faith, and the difficulty of interpretation in mind, we are going to spend 9 weeks looking at a few of these peculiar books in the Old Testament. We want to familiarize ourselves with Israel’s story and learn to look at the exile with gospel perspective as we gain essential insight and wisdom from God’s word. In the end we’ll find that Israel’s exile will prove to be much more familiar to us than we may have initially thought.
Learning about Israel’s exile helps us come to grips with our own exile. We will find a voice in these poetic and prophetic books that resonates with our experience of a world that doesn’t quite feel like home. We will see in Israel some of our own failures to trust God in dark times and believe he’s truly sovereign over all things. Like them we too find it hard to obey God when the ground we stand on is shaky. There are times we place our hopes in the wrong things and feel bombarded by disappointment in this world. All this and more is the reality of exile and thankfully we get the chance to listen, learn, and find out how it all points forward to the coming of Christ the promised Messiah.
A Far Off Country will take us from Jerusalem to Babylon and back again considering all the while what it was like to go through exile. As we learn about Israel’s exile we’ll grow in our ability to face our own with gospel wisdom, humble gratitude, and a hope firmly planted in the God above it all.