Preparing to Return to Jerusalem

Open Your Bible

Ezra 8:1-36, Jeremiah 31:1-11, Jeremiah 31:16-17, 2 Peter 3:9

In some of my favorite childhood memories, I’m running into my father’s arms to be swooped up into a ginormous hug. Sometimes he would even throw me toward the expansive blue sky, the air whooshing out of my lungs until I was caught up again, safe and secure in his arms. 

That feeling of being suspended in mid-air, though: I still feel that way sometimes. Whether it’s anxiety about a job situation, uncertainty about finances, or worry over a diagnosis, we all face moments when we realize that if God doesn’t intervene, we’re in big trouble.

Before heading back to Jerusalem, Ezra faced that same realization: without God’s protection and provision, they would never make it to Jerusalem. The Israelites’ track record had little to recommend them, and if God’s answer were dependent on their good behavior, they were toast. 

So they humbled themselves, and God was receptive to His people’s prayers. Because even when we fail, God’s faithfulness holds steady.

Despite Israel’s disobedience, God did not allow sin to derail His good plan. His own faithful character guarantees that His promises will come true in the end whether we live to see those fulfillments or not. Unlike humans—who sometimes keep their promises and other times abandon them—God’s heart of faithful love means He will always come through.

Throughout Scripture we see God’s heart bend toward compassion, forgiveness, and grace. Indeed, “The one who scattered Israel will gather him” (Jeremiah 31:10). He is the promise-keeping, covenant-fulfilling, sin-forgiving God. His unrelenting grace brings the prodigal home, envelops him in the best robe, and declares him “son” once more.

Like Israel’s return to the promised land in today’s reading, we also get to return to our heavenly Father in repentance and humility, to find Him waiting for us with open arms. 

How striking to read in Jeremiah 31:20 that God’s “inner being yearns” for His children to repent, to turn from their patterns of sin, and to return home as the cherished children of God He calls His own! Though God kept His promise to discipline His unfaithful people with exile, He also kept His promise to bring them home to the promised land again. Even when Israel was guilty of apostasy, God wouldn’t let sin get the final word. Rather, His own faithfulness guaranteed that His promises would be fulfilled, no matter what. 

God’s heart beats with compassion. His faithfulness means that no matter whether we’re having a good or bad day, we can always find refuge in Him. So we can throw ourselves on God’s mercy, approaching His throne of grace with confidence, knowing that He’s been patiently waiting for us to return to Him all along.

And because of Jesus, the Father’s same faithful love and compassion is poured out on us as well, welcoming prodigals of all ages to return home to Him again. We are safe and secure in His everlasting arms.

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54 thoughts on "Preparing to Return to Jerusalem"

  1. Pamela Randol says:

    Hallelujah!

  2. Terri Baldwin says:

    17 There is hope for your future,
    declares the Lord,
    and your children shall come back to their own country. – Jeremiah 31:17

  3. Cindy Hanna says:

    @ Colleen DeVeau. Feeling blessed to read yesterday’s tribute to God for his goodness to your Father and your family. Thank you for the beautiful pictures of sunsets,ducks and peace you described. Praying for you.

  4. Laura says:

    2 Peter 3:9 really spoke to my heart today, “The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” As a mom who is waiting for two prodigals to turn around and come home, this comforts me. It feels so long sometimes, and I often pray, how long Lord, until they come? My heart hurts because of their unbelief and rebellion. But the Lord is not delaying as I understand that delay. They must need the time to experience whatever they need to experience, or meet whomever they need to meet, or fail at whatever they need to fail at…I just don’t know, but God knows, and that needs to be enough for me!

  5. Rhonda J. says:

    YES Annie and Donna, perfectly said what I was thinking! SO Good, that we have a SO GOOD God! How often do I rely on myself, and make my plans despite knowing that I need to, have to, rely on my Heavenly Father?!. Boy, I wish we were so faithful today to give it all; our time, energy, love, and abundance to Him, the One that gives it ALL to us. I wish we would fall on our knees as a nation…putting the ONE HOLY God on reverent display and heeding His voice, and wisely following after Him. But, I can still do it, luckily, for now.

    We made it back home this morning after a long night of travel! It’s not as easy as it used to be! But nothing feels like home! I am sure that’s how it felt to journey back to Jerusalem! Thank you for your prayers! I am excited to be able to make it to jail this afternoon, I didn’t think we would be back yet! That will be helpful because our main leader is out of town, and I am the only other one that goes on a regular basis with her, But God has faithfully brought some new volunteers into the ministry that agreed to go today!

    Love you all, my SRT SHE”S and Friends!!

  6. sophie marie says:

    feeling so so thankful for the promise that in my unfaithfulness, He will be faithful, in my doubt, He is sure, and in my wandering heart, He WILL carry me home. thank you Jesus for the ways you pull our heart back to yourself time and time again, and how when you do you recieve us with open arms!

  7. HL says:

    @TAMI C-praying for your daughter that she will find the community there that she longs for and that this medication tweak will ease her anxiety. Praying for you to continue to be reminded by God that you both made the right decision for her college as well.
    As someone who has willingly moved many times and had to find community (while being a introvert),I understand how much of a difference it will make in her experience while she’s there.

  8. sophie marie says:

    praying for you and your daughter Tami C! for encouragement and peace in the difficult transition time<3