Homecoming after Exile

Read: Isaiah 54:1-10

But my steadfast love shall not depart from you. (v. 10 NRSV)

One cultural observer describes life today as “coping with the flux.” Our age is characterized as a time of ever accelerating change, motion, flux. Everything seems up in the air. All the familiar landmarks seem gone or only vaguely perceivable. We are living in a kind of exile.

One form of this contemporary exile is a sense of rootlessness. In the poignant words of one twenty-something nomad: “I have no beliefs. I belong to no community, tradition, or anything like that. I’m lost in this vast, vast world. I belong nowhere. I have absolutely no identity.” People feel homeless.

The people of Israel were in exile. They were homeless. All was in flux. Their identity was at stake. Indeed, their theology was in crisis. Have the gods of Babylon triumphed? How do we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? Where is God? In a foreign land hope had disappeared as fast as a wild pitch skipping past the catcher. Can you feel it? The desperate craving for the security of home?

To these cries Isaiah speaks the word of the Lord. God is a God of hesed—of enduring, steadfast love. God is like a nursing mother who shows compassion for the child of her womb. The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but God’s steadfast love shall not depart and God’s covenant of peace shall never be removed. —Steven Bouma-Prediger

As you pray, remember that though the mountains may depart, God’s love, mercy, and compassion will always be with you.

About the Author

Steve Bouma-Prediger is the Leonard and Marjorie Mass Professor of Reformed Theology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. A graduate of Hope College, his Ph.D. is in religious studies from The University of Chicago. His most recent book is Earthkeeping and Character: Exploring a Christian Ecological Virtue Ethic.

When not teaching or writing, he spends as much time as possible canoeing or backpacking in his favorite places in North America or simply hiking among the magnificent trees in southwest Michigan parks.

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