Bible's Big Picture  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:13
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Have you ever been exiled? Maybe you were exiled from a classroom for misbehaving? (I have)
Maybe you were at odds with your spouse and you were exiled to the couch?
Perhaps you were exiled by people at work, they excluded you from a group of colleagues?
Perhaps you were exiled from society and spent time in prison?
What did it feel like?
Exile is not a nice place to be - excluded. Did you feel abandoned? Left behind? Unloved?
Even if you were exiled for good reason, something you did, you can feel a bit lost. You are in some sense out of fellowship with others. God made us to live in community, and so exile can be a painful experience, even if it is only temporary.
There is much relief and joy when exile is over, when there is restoration in relationships. You were separated but now you are united. You were apart, now together. Fellowship is restored through reconciliation!
Exile is one of those things that shows up a bunch of times across the pages of the Bible. Exile is a theme that communicates something wonderful about our God. Counter-intuitively, the story of Exile in the Bible brings God’s people hope!
This is our 6th and last look at the Big Picture of the Bible. There are plenty more themes we could explore but as is always the case with God’s Word, it is so deep that we cannot exhaust it! We can mine all day and keep finding gold!
Yet we will be leaving this series here. Hopefully you have a greater appreciation for the cohesiveness of scripture. I hope that you have seen the unfolding picture of salvation that takes place across the pages and over thousands of years!
As ever, we will start in the beginning, with Genesis.

Exile from Eden

Perfect unity. Humans living with God. Walking with Him in fellowship.
A Wonderful place, yes work to do, but good work. Fruitful garden, wonderful life.
There was a break. Disloyalty, disobedience meant that the relationship was severed, and humans were exiled from the Garden.
Genesis 3:22–24 ESV
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Humans were exiled East of Eden. In the scriptures, going out to the east is always ominous.
This started the exile of the whole human race. The image bearers of God, who were given a wonderful job to do under God were now wandering apart from God.
This is the general state of humanity, down to this day.

Exile in Egypt

God had a rescue plan to save humanity. Starting with one family and then spreading it to the rest of the world.
That Family was Abraham’s family, specifically through Israel. They would be the people of God, united to Him, and they would be a light to the world of what it looked like to belong to and follow God. God was going to bring them to a Promised Land, a kind of redo of Eden where they would live with God.
Before the time came for them to settle the land, they had to sojourn in Egypt, but the sojourn turned sour. What should have been an intermission became a disaster.
The people of God started to serve the gods of Egypt, they became idol worshipers. They became unfaithful, and they were enslaved in Egypt. They gave themselves over and were oppressed. They became trapped outside the Promised Land, languishing in Egypt.
They stayed there for hundreds of years. Then they finally remembered the LORD their God, and they called out to Him. Despite their poor choices, and the disloyalty of their forefathers, God graciously heard their prayers and came to deliver them from Egypt.
Her promised to bring them into the Promised Land, and live with them there. They would flourish there under God’s blessing as they remained faithful to God.

Exile in the Wilderness

Unfortunately this was short lived. After God sprung the Israelites from Egypt they started making their way though the desert to the Promised Land.
They were ready to go in and take control of the land. God’s enemies were living in the land, and so Israel was going to have to drive them out by force. They were criminal squatters.
So Israel sent 12 spies into the Promised Land to do some reconnaissance. They were sent to get intel on the bad guys and what-not.
But the spies came back, and most of them were terrified, so they gave a bad report. Even though there were a couple dissenting voices, the nation basically said “God you’re going to kill us and our kids if we go into the Promised Land”
They trusted 10 spies over God and the 2 spies that gave the good report. Despite God’s faithfulness demonstrated in their miraculous escape from Egypt, they wouldn't trust Him. So God sent them into exile - a forty year wandering in the wilderness...
Numbers 14:31–33 ESV
But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness.
This forty years was roughly equivalent to a generation of people, basically all the adults who came up out of Egypt, their rebellion would mean they would wander the desert for the rest of their life.
A hard thing to bear, but once again it is the judgment of God that unfaithfulness leads to exile.
Yet, like Egypt, it would not last forever. God would rescue his people from their exile and be merciful to them.
He brought them into the land, drove out their enemies, set them up with blessings.

Exile in Assyria & Babylon

Yet like before, the pattern repeats. The people were unfaithful.
Time after time they rejected God. The worshiped idols or just did their own thing.
Time after time across the pages of Judges he restored them.
They had kings just like themselves who would be unfaithful.
God was very patient, but eventually he sent his judgment: They would be exiled.
By this time the place of Israel had split into two kingdoms - Israel & Judah. North and South kingdoms.
God promised to send them into exile. But He didn’t do it strait away, he sent plenty of warnings through the prophets. They were called to repent and turn back to the Lord.
But they wouldn’t listen, so the north was defeated and sent into exile under the Assyrian empire. Then later Judah was defeated and sent into exile by the Babylonians...
2 Chronicles 36:19–21 ESV
And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.
Part of turning to the lord meant keeping the good law God had given them such as Sabbaths - resting the land every 7 years. So When God sent them into exile for 70 years, it was as if the land got it’s backlog of sabbaths all at once.
The people were unfaithful, so God sent judgment. It meant that there were a whole lot of people who lost out on God’s blessing.
Now there were some faithful few caught up in all this, like the prophet Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. But they ended up suffering along with all the rest because of the rebellion of the many.
Yet there was hope, God had promised the exile would be temporary, He would return them to the land and restore God’s people like never before. They would be able to live with God, and God would overcome their perpetual infidelity by working in their hearts.
SO after 70 years in Babylon, the people of Judah, the Jews, were allowed to return home and start rebuilding.
But it was a bit anticlimactic. Yes they got to go home, but they did’t get all the land back. Their new temple was pitiful, they had no king anointed by God.
even though they were in the Promised Land, it was as if they were still spiritually in exile.
This left them with a great yearning to see all the prophesies fulfilled.
When would God come though and deliver? When would their exile truly end?

Exile in Egypt... Again.

After waiting again for hundreds of years a carpenters son showed up of the scene. This boy’s birth was quite peculiar - he was the one who would bring exile to it’s end!
God promised beforehand that this babe was going to Save Israel, in fact his very name Jesus, means God Saves! He was also called Emmanuel - God with us!
Finally God was going to save his people and well with them! Finally exile would end!
Intriguingly, Jesus would himself mimic the exiles of Israel. The Israelite boy went down into Egypt to sojourn:
Matthew 2:13–15 ESV
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
He went to Egypt to escape death, like his nation before him, but unlike Israel, Jesus didn’t worship the idols of Egypt.
He was the truly loyal one.

Exile in the Wilderness… Again.

When He grew up Jesus went out into the wilderness, like His nation before him. He faced trials and temptations in the desert:
Matthew 4:1–2 ESV
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Israel went 40 years in the wilderness, and Jesus symbolically identified himself with his countrymen by wandering 40 days and nights in the wilderness.
But unlike his forbears, Jesus would not give into the temptation. He would not become unfaithful. He remained loyal to God every step of the way!
Jesus active obedience meant that he was the perfect Israelite. He didn’t fail where they had failed. As you read the Gospel accounts of His life, you see that Jesus kept God’s law. He never put a foot wrong.
You and I are sinners. We have been disloyal to God. Like Adam & Eve, and the Israelites, we have failed in faithfulness. We deserve perpetual exile from God and his blessings.
Not Christ, he did it all perfectly. The was the only Perfect man who ever lived.
Yet Christ came to save his people, so how does this perfect man save God’s people?
He died in their place. Jesus in essence said, “you deserve exile to death for your disloyalty, and I have the right to life through my own righteousness, I’l swap ya! You take the life from me, and I’ll die in your place”
He took all the sins of God’s people on himself and atoned for them with His death.
But death could not hold him, he over came death and rose to life!
Now he offers that life to all who would be loyal to him. And it’s not loyalty with stigs attached. You don’t need to do anything to earn it, you just trust Jesus and believe in him.
So after His death and resurrection, the Good News about this offer of Salvation needed to go out into the world, But Jesus said, wait here around Jerusalem for a bit.
Pentecost!! On that day there were Jews from all over the roman empire in Jerusalem for a festival and Peter preached this good news to them, this new was essentially that the exile was over. God’s people didn’t need to languish under Judgement, but they could find God’s salvation and blessing through Jesus Christ.
God sent his Holy Spirit on the Church at Pentecost, the one who would work in hearts to secure the loyalty of God’s people. And it wasn’t just for Jews, this was the fullness of God’s plan to save humanity coming to fruition. Anyone who trusts in Jesus will be saved, no matter who you are or what you’ve done!
You can be reconciled to God! You can receive a guarantee that you will live with God under his blessing for eternity!

Exile in Babylon… Again.

Yet, now we are still in a kind of exile. Jesus is the one who ends exile, but we haven’t yet seen the completion of that work. Jesus has won salvation, the HS has been sent, but we are not gathered together in a promised land physically with the Lord.
We’re still sojourners looking for the final fulfillment of all the promises.
Some nations down through history have though they were the promised land
Roman Empire
South Africa
United States
Take to heart the words of Peter:
1 Peter 2:11 ESV
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
We are exiles and sojourners, and so we should live like it!
We must not be like those who went into exile before us and be disloyal.
God will fulfill his promises. He is with us. He will bring us home.
As the exiles of Egypt, Wildness and Babylon came to and end, soon the Exile of humanity from Eden will come to an end.
The Book of Revelation paints a word picture of God’s final restoration of His people. And it makes it sound as if were are in a kind of exile in Babylon. The world opposes God, and God’s people are scattered throughout this world described as Babylon. This world is described like a promiscuous woman who has deceived people and recklessly opposed God.
God calls his people to come out of this Exile in Babylon and to be faithful by not being entagled in her rebellion:
Revelation 18:4–5 ESV
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
God brings his people to the garden city, full of life, where they will live face to face with God under his blessing, reconciled fully and finally with God.
Be faithful! Be Loyal! This present exile is a Judgment, but it also comes with hope of restoration because of Jesus.
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