Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Learning from history

The days of Israel’s  fall and recovery from Babylon

The narrative of Israel’s fall due to their sin, in particular the sin of idolatry, is very sad indeed. In the story is the evidence of God’s divine judgement. Also woven into the history are glimpses of divine grace e.g. the preservation of Daniel and his friends. Some might have been tempted to ask  “where was God”, during the destruction of the city, the temple , the nation. That question was also asked of the holocaust!

The very terms of the restoration of Judah and Benjamin to Jerusalem was evidence of the sovereign grace of God. He alone can change the king’s heart.
The story of the recovery of the city, the land, the temple is quite thrilling. God moves in and through a remnant to restore the honour of His name among the nations. I recommend you read it again.

As I come to the end of my meditations, I have found it quite heartbreaking to read of the repeated failure of the people who returned to Jerusalem. Idolatry seemed to have been purged from the nation, but commitment and enthusiasm toward the Lord God seriously failed. God sent Ezra, Nehemiah and other prophets up to Malachi, to revive the devotion of the people, but circumstances, distractions and half-heartedness so often extinguished the flame of commitment.

It is so like the word of the Lord to the church at Ephesus.
“You have left your first love” (Revelation 2)
I observe that Nehemiah instituted a written covenant of commitment (Nehemiah 9,10), but even that failed.

The lesson I learn from my recent weeks of reading this part of God’s story, is found in the words of Jude:
“Keep yourselves in the love of God”
Or as Paul wrote:
“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3)

May it be so for all my readers around the world.  Whatever your circumstances, remember that God loves you and by His Holy Spirit wants you to enjoy His nearness every day. Be encouraged by reading Malachi   Chapter 3.16-18.

John McKee

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