The Exiles Return Home
Ezra, Chapter Two
Today, we turn to Ezra, chapter two: The Exiles Return. At first glance, you may want to close the Bible quickly. We scan the pages, seeing names and numbers, and our eyes glaze over. How many times have we thumbed through the pages to the next thing?
When my Sweet Man and I began to read through the Bible, I would laughingly tell him I needed toothpicks with which to prop my eyelids up. Together we would trudge through the genealogies, encouraging one another.
I won’t lie to you. It was a slow process.
Finally, the names became familiar, and God began a transformation in my heart. I have visited the cemetery with my mother and husband in the past. Standing back, I quietly watched as their fingers brushed over their loved ones names and their tears splashed to the ground.
We remember those who have gone before us.
As we read through the Sacred Text, we can run our fingers over the names and know these are real people. Real people named and counted by God. People who have gone before us.
When our hearts connect to the text, we see God. For a brief moment, we are standing on holy ground.
The exiles return from captivity in Ezra, chapter two, beginning with the following words:
“Now these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town. They came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah.”
Ezra 2:1-2 (ESV)
Dictionary.com defines exile as:
1. expulsion from one’s native land by authoritative decree.2. the fact or state of such expulsion:to live in exile.3. a person banished from his or her native land.
Imagine being exiled from your hometown, the place where memories lay on your heart as footprints.
I grew up in Southwestern, Virginia, rolling hills, endless fields of cows, mountain peaks, and a twangy accent. Thirty-seven years of familiarity and memories burned into my soul.
When a failing business forced us to move, I will tell you it did not feel like a call from God. The move seven hours further south felt like exile. Expulsion. Abandonment.
Sweet One this is how I imagine the Israelites were feeling — wrenched from their home, their God, and familiarity into a strange pagan nation. Cast aside and forgotten.
Our mourning turned to joy where pecans grew and sand gnats tormented.
Consequently, God, in His mercy and grace, gave us the ability to look back and see where He was present even when we felt utterly alone. God redeemed those years with a sweet church family, cherished friendships, and precious memories.
Likewise, we get the same rearview mirror perspective in Ezra, chapter two.
The Israelites are called by the Lord, out of exile and back to their homeland. They are named and numbered and seen where I imagine they felt unseen and abandoned.
I can relate to feeling unseen, forgotten, and abandoned in a foreign land. Can you?
While we, exiled in the middle of our stories, feel forgotten, God gives us a beautiful picture here in Ezra with a list of names and numbers.
Jeremiah prophesied this very event in Jeremiah 29: 10-14
“For thus says the Lord: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.’” (ESV)
And you and I stand on holy ground, the Holy, Sacred Text of God Almighty, and watch as He rescues, returns, and redeems the Israelites. God, our God, called the exiles home. He calls you as well.
The exiles return home.
Through His Word, we see God fulfill his promise. If we are not in His Word, how can we know? How can we trust?
What does this mean to me and you today?
We serve a God who brings our stories to fulfillment. Whether it will be in this life or on the other side, as a believer in Jesus Christ, we know God will bring us to completion on the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Above everything, anything we have experienced and will experience, we can trust God. He is faithful to do what He promises.
God is reliable, trustworthy, dependable, unmovable, unshakeable and He is for us.
God has no limits.
As the exiles return home.
We can rest in God’s promises! Nothing else can nor will withstand, only God. Amid your exile, our wilderness, we can know that God is steadfast. He is our Refuge, our Fortress, our God, in whom we can trust.
While we are yet in the middle of our story, we will have seasons of exile — seasons of wilderness. But God sees, knows, names, and counts his exiles.
The ultimate question is this: “Are you His?”
I am here to encourage you, equip you, and guide you as you redefine your wilderness. You can comment below or send a private email to email@example.com.
Your Wilderness Guide,
If you have been following my Instagram Stories, by now, you’ve heard about the H.E.A.R. Method and H.E.A.R. Journal. I would love to have you join me on this journey. The H.E.A.R. Method of studying the Bible has taken me more in-depth than ever before! If you would like to learn more email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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“There is no space to live well or love well, much less pursue the God who created us to be in fellowship with Him. We close the gap between what we need and what we want with more. Our spinning lives and broken hearts are empty while appearing full. We paste a smile on our face and tell anyone who asks we are okay while inside we are shattering a million different ways.” -Mornings In The Word