Sep 30, 2019
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
Exile sounds like a pretty nasty, terrible word, doesn't it? My pastor is taking us through a series called "Embracing Exile," inspired by the book authored by T. Scott Daniels with the same title. When you hear the word exile, you probably imagine the thousands fleeing political persecution or those driven out of their homeland by disease, poverty, violence, or even genocide.
We think of all the bad things associated with the word. We believe exile a horrendous tragedy that no one should face. But take a hard look at the life cycle of the Israelites in the Old Testament. Dr. Daniels points out the nation performed at its best spiritually when going through times of exile. 
Saul, David, and Solomon served as probably the three most notable kings in the nation's history, and the only three who led a united Israel. But it only took these three kings' behavior to split the country and drive it away from serving God. Israel's kings were not all bad, there were a few good men, but not many.
During their exiles, though, the Israelites listened to their prophets. They clung to the hope heard in God's words. They changed their ways to serve God in the ways he desired. Exile helped the Israelites to see their dependence on God instead of themselves. In fact, Jeremiah clearly saw how God moves in times of exile. The story in Jeremiah 32 shows remarkably well how God works even in times of exile for his people.
King Zedekiah didn't like Jeremiah's prophecies. He always came with bad news. Zedekiah wanted to hear the words of his other prophets. "You'll win this war." "Go ahead and protest against Babylon. That pagan doesn't stand a chance." "God's got this, stand up and fight."
Then there is Jeremiah. "King, not only will you lose the war, you and your sons will end up in Babylon. You won't be king long. Instead, you'll be a prisoner and who knows what that pagan king will do to you. But don't worry, God will let some of us come back in 70 years."
Yeah, Jeremiah wasn't very popular. That's why Zedekiah put him in cisterns and prison and other not so wonderful places. So there Jeremiah sat in the court of the guards, house arrest, jail. He knew Israel's days were coming to a close. Soon, Babylon's soldiers would come screaming through the gates. They would kill or capture every official, and cart them off to into exile.
Jeremiah, as a prophet, heard from God. He shared these words with us:
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah. For Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him, saying, "Why do you prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall capture it;”
God told him those things before. Nothing new here. God reiterated the stuff he'd been trying to get the people to hear for years but refused. Once more, the message came, and Jeremiah delivered it. Then God told him something strange.
“Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me: Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’ Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
“And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions and the open copy. And I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my cousin, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. I charged Baruch in their presence, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.’”
God told all the prophets of that era Israel's disobedience meant their destruction. The Northern Kingdom already fell to foreign aggression. Now, the Southern Kingdom faced Nebuchadnezzar. King of the most powerful nation in the known world. His army never lost, and his army stood at the gates. The city already felt the impact of the siege.
Buy fields when you know the enemy will take it? Ridiculous! Pay full price for land you will never use? What was God thinking? Didn't God know the Babylonians had siegeworks growing around the outer walls every day? Didn't he tell the prophet the city would fall? Why spend good silver on a lousy investment? Hadn't Solomon's proverbs advised against such foolishness?
It's interesting how many times God tells his people to do things that look pretty foolish to the world. Have you ever noticed? Noah built an ark when it had never flooded anywhere before. Abraham took off for parts unknown, believing God would make a great nation of his lineage at the age of 75 when he had no children. David, still a shepherd, challenged a seasoned giant of a soldier in hand to hand combat with a sling and a stone. God asks his followers to do things that look foolish sometimes.
Paul gives us a clue when he tells us God's foolishness is wiser than man's wisdom, though. He knows what he's doing far better than we do. We think we exude intelligence and wisdom sometimes, but all you need do is look around at the state of affairs we created, and it doesn't take much to discover we're not so smart after all.
Jeremiah believed God. He bought the field, signed the title, and put the deed in clay jars to preserve them long enough for the nation to return. Jeremiah trusted God's people would wake up in their exile, and return to their worship of the one true God, Jehovah. He believed they would thrive in exile, unlike what they did in what they thought were the good old days of the kingdom.
You see, we get it wrong so often. We consider the comfortable, prosperous, easy times the ones we should desire. Looking over Israel's history, the history of the early church, often my personal account, I'm not sure we have it right. My best times spiritually sometimes come when I can't see how I'm going to make it tomorrow. When no solution to the problem presents itself except God, I must rely on him. I have no choice, so I draw close to him for life.
When we think we can solve every problem ourselves, we believe we don't need God. We get into our head we are as smart as he is. We look at life like the rich young ruler and forget an accounting comes much sooner than we expect. The truth be told, we don't do a very good job of solving things. Just look around at the mess we've made of the world and tell me how well we've done.
I'm not asking for it, by any means, but sometimes I wonder if we would be better off with more struggles in life. I think we would need God more if life weren't so easy. Maybe we need to live in a state of exile and realize how much we need God. Perhaps it's time we embrace a different lifestyle that pushes us toward him instead of thinking we are self-sufficient all the time. Of course, if the revelator is right, it might not be long before we find ourselves in just that position. You might want to start practicing a little more reliance on him starting today.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
 T. Scott Daniels, Embracing Exile, Living Faithfully as God’s Unique People in the World (Beacon Hill Press, Kansas City, MO 2017), pg 22-23.
 Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright© 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.