January 07, 2017

Far From Home

2 Kings 24:8-17

There was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai . . . .

—  Esther 2:5-6

The Jewish people in the book of Esther had been far from their ancestral home in Jerusalem for a long time. The year was about 483 BC, and their great-grandparents had been exiled with King Jehoiachin over 100 years earlier (597 BC). Then, after Babylon was conquered by Persia in 539 BC, some Jewish exiles returned to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, but many had remained and were now scattered over Persia’s 127 provinces. Still, they were God’s people.

Jerusalem, the city of God’s dwelling among his people, seems to have lost its central importance for many of the Jews in Persia. But this is not surprising. Even King Solomon, in his prayer of dedication for the temple, described it as God’s earthly dwelling but recognized that it couldn’t contain God, who rules throughout the universe from his throne in heaven (1 Kings 8:27).

Remarkably, James 1:1 ­addresses Christians this way: “To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations.” And today we know that the dwelling of the Holy Spirit is in the hearts and lives of God’s people (Ephesians 2:19-22), no matter where they live on this earth. Like the Jews in Esther’s time, Christians await the revealing of God’s heavenly power. We wait for the heavenly Jerusalem to descend on the new earth. Then we will finally be home.

In the meantime, we live out our Christian citizenship among the nations, wherever we are.

Thank you, Lord, for the heavenly citizenship we have through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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