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Fellows for our ship: coming out of exile and into true community

13/08/2023 - Matt Destry

What does exile look like?

In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. 2 On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), 3 the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the Chebar canal, and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.
Ezekiel 1:1-3 (ESV)

Exile is not something new – but experienced by the people of God in Ezekiel – as we just read in our passage. So, why did this come about for Israel, why does this happen to us, and what do we do about it?

Why were the Israelites exiled?

The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the Lord being strong upon me. 15 And I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who were dwelling by the Chebar canal, and I sat where they were dwelling.[c] And I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days.
Ezekiel 3:14-15 (ESV)

A brief history… of people, place and time

David >
Solomon >
Divided Kingdom >
Northern Kingdom of Israel defeated by Assyria (715BC) >
Southern Kingdom is defeated and exiled to Babylon (read Ezekiel and Daniel) (590BC) >
Persia overthrows the Babylonians and allows the Jews back into Jerusalem (520BC) >

The exiles were separated from:

  1. Temple worship (temple)
  2. Each other (killed, exiled, displaced)
  3. their land (land, nature)

Which, had two specific outcomes:

  1. Separation from God
  2. Separation from themselves

The exiles, who have been so proud of Jerusalem, now find themselves dwarfed by the size and scope of Babylon’s buildings and businesses. And where is the God of Israel in all this? Is he still alive, or has he been defeated too?

How does this get resolved?

These shall be the exits of the city: On the north side, which is to be 4,500 cubits (1.5 miles) by measure, three gates, the gate of Reuben, the gate of Judah, and the gate of Levi, the gates of the city being named after the tribes of Israel. On the east side, which is to be 4,500 cubits, three gates, the gate of Joseph, the gate of Benjamin, and the gate of Dan. On the south side, which is to be 4,500 cubits by measure, three gates, the gate of Simeon, the gate of Issachar, and the gate of Zebulun. On the west side, which is to be 4,500 cubits, three gates, the gate of Gad, the gate of Asher, and the gate of Naphtali. 35 The circumference of the city shall be 6 miles. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.”
Ezekiel 48:30-35 (ESV)

Jehovah Shamah – The Lord is There…

1. A way back from exile

2. God’s commitment to His people

3. There is a space for you

What happens now?

Reconnect with people, with church, with nature – inso doing, you will reconnect with God and yourself

So, come out of exile!

  1. he has made a way for us to connect with church community again
  2. he has made a way for us to connect with people again
  3. he has made a way for us to connect with place and nature

“It is esteemed by the prophet to be the highest blessing that could come upon a city that it’s name should be Jehovah-Shammah, The Lord is there’
Charles Spurgeon