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Jeremiah 31:10-17

10 “Hear the word of the Lord, you nations;
    proclaim it in distant coastlands:
‘He who scattered Israel will gather them
    and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’
11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob
    and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.
12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
    they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—
the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,
    the young of the flocks and herds.
They will be like a well-watered garden,
    and they will sorrow no more.
13 Then young women will dance and be glad,
    young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
    I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance,
    and my people will be filled with my bounty,”
declares the Lord.

15 This is what the Lord says:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

16 This is what the Lord says:

“Restrain your voice from weeping
    and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord.
    “They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your descendants,”
declares the Lord.
    “Your children will return to their own land.

The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”

(Jeremiah 31:10:-17; 31-34)

Our disicpleship model at CRBC is summed up in once sentence that I want to keep repeating:

There is a place you need to begin

Friends you need to find

Truths you need to believe 

Disciplines you need to live

Resulting in the person God wants you to be 

If you are not in a group, find a group- commit to learning the Bible and the docrtines through constant study. Live out your faith in a disciplined way by prayer and bible study and regular attendance and fasting and giving.  And the result will be the fruit of the Spirit- love joy peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness self control. That’s how it works.  That’s what his word and his community and his spirit does in us and through us. 

His word has power. 

Philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote extensively about displacement – how people feel alienated in this world.  The question is why they feel this way?

What does the exile of Israel mean to us?  A lot.  

1. Every human being was born with a desire for home

In a sense, we all have a feeling of exile.  When you read the prophecies, they seem almost over the top in what they promise: 

34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’  (Ezekiel 34:34-35)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekial 36:26)

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

If you were to go to Mars you would not survive because there isn’t enough oxygen.  Earth has 20% and Mars only 1% - you wouldn’t survive because you were not built for that world.  It doesn’t support who you are.  

When God created us he put us in the Garden of Eden, where everyone of our capacities was completely supported.  

2. Our sin nature has put us in exile 

The philosopher Kamu wrote about how the human heart desires beauty that lasts.  The most basic desire of the human heart is to have love last and to have beauty last.  But we find no consolation in that, because we know that it doesn’t last.  Where did this longing come from?  This is the essence of our sense of exile. 

The only answer to this sense of exile is in the scriptures.  The atheistic humanism that is so popular today does not have the answer.  You remember the Lion King- we are all a part of the circle of life- your going to die and become fertilizer and that will other plants and animals survive- how's that for a comforting vision? 

The most basic desire of the human heart is love that lasts.  Beauty that lasts.  Last week our 9:00 ensemble PraiseSong sang, “Give me Jesus.”  

If I come to die, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus 

You can take this whole world, but give me Jesus 

The song resonates powerfully because it is reinforcing that most basic biblical truth that we will be with Jesus in all eternity.  

The problem is that this world can’t sustain this most basic need for love that will last. This is not the world we were built for.  

God is the home we are longing to get to.  

A wish may lead to false beliefs, granted. But what does the existence of the wish suggest? Being hungry doesn’t prove that we have bread. But surely, tho’ it doesn’t prove that one particular man will get food, it does prove that there is such a thing as food! i.e. if we were a species that didn’t normally eat, weren’t designed to eat, would we feel hungry? You say the materialist universe is “ugly.” I wonder how you discovered that! If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it that you don’t feel at home there? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Of if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (“How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up & married! I can hardly believe it!”) In heaven’s name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal. (C.S. Lewis in Severe Mercy)

Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity”)

So why do we not feel at home?   Because we are not in the garden anymore and we are not in heaven yet. The result of our sin is exile.  Let me give you a couple of examples.  What happens to a relationship when you lie?  It is the beginning of the end of the relationship.  Exile is the result.  

In Leviticus 16 God gave instruction to the people of Israel to take two goats- one that was sacrificed for the sin of the people and another that was released- banished- exiled.  It was a symbol of how our sin exiles us. 

3. The solution to our exile 

15 This is what the Lord says:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

What are Rachel's tears?  Genesis 35 tells the story of her giving birth to Benjamin.  She died in labor- She gave birth, wept for her baby and died. 

17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”

(Matthew 2:17-19)

Jesus fulfilled this passage because he went into exile in Egypt.  How did Jesus fulfill this passage?

Jesus lived his life as an exile.  He had no home.  He was born in a borrowed manger and died in a borrowed tomb.  

Remember that he was crucified outside the city gate.  He was the ultimate exile.  

Like Rachel he labored in death so that we could have life. 

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:1-6)

If you bring this truth deep in your heart, nothing can sink you.  Visit your home regularly and renovate it. 

Discussion Questions: 

  1. What does it mean that we are all exiles?
  2. How does our sense of not belonging manifest itself in our lives? 
  3. How has our sin exiled us?
  4. Can you think of examples in your own experience in which sin exiled a relationship?  Explain.
  5. What is the solution to our exile? 
  6. How was Jesus exiled for us?

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