The Coming Exile
Open Your Bible
Jeremiah 15:1-21, Jeremiah 16:1-21, Exodus 15:2-3, Luke 11:45-52
Last weekend, I tried to fly to Chicago during the biggest blizzard they’ve had all year—key word here being tried. To be fair, I knew snow was in the forecast, but I also assumed that it was always in the forecast, and therefore, just another Friday in the Windy City. This is one of those areas where people who live in cold-weather states get all puffy in their parkas and tell those of us who live in the blessed South, “Relax. We know how to deal with this. We have snow plows!”
After arriving at the airport at an appropriately early time and confirming my flight’s “on time” status, I was relaxed. But just as I joined the line for coffee to pass the time before boarding, I got the dreaded text: My flight had been “cancelled.”
There’s a unique shade of panic when it comes to flight plans becoming totally derailed. You begin with a detailed, minute-by-minute itinerary of how exactly you’ll get from point A to point B, and then one small malfunction, or not-so-small storm, comes along and forces you to watch each well-planned step unravel before your very eyes.
The Israeilites knew what it was like to not have things go according to plan. Today’s reading recalls their deliverance by God from Egypt, which is the central act of redemption in the Old Testament. Throughout Scripture, God continues to remind His people of His promise-keeping trustworthiness and steadfast character, but Jeremiah 16 predicts a turbulent journey ahead for God’s people: their coming exile.
“However, look, the days are coming… when it will no longer be said,
‘As the LORD lives who brought the Israelites from the land of Egypt,’ but rather,
‘As the LORD lives who brought the Israelites from the land of the north
and from all the other lands where he had banished them.’
For I will return them to their land that I gave to their ancestors” (Jeremiah 16:14–15).
A reroute doesn’t disqualify you from ending up where you’re supposed to be. In the case of the Israelites, who I imagine probably just wanted to end up somewhere safe, God didn’t just get them from point A to point B; He gave them freedom, releasing them from captivity and slavery, and brought them home.
God’s plan isn’t just to redirect us—it’s to redeem and restore us. He may not provide a step-by-step itinerary or a packing list, but I do believe that if we read the pages of Scripture and remember who He has been to us in the past, we get something even more important: a picture of His character. We don’t need to know the inclement weather plan or be reminded to put on our own air masks before assisting someone else. We just need to know who is in charge. And that is more than enough.