In which there is Divine Paradox

by Craig on August 24, 2011

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And there is so much more to Exile – but I think I’ll just leave it behind with some final thoughts.

•    Israel’s heart? They never gave it fully to God – until after Exile.
•    And God’s prophets, though their words may be tough, should be heeded.
•    Israel, and their defeat and Exile, were never the goal of Babylon.
•    And I think that it’s far better to give in to God’s discipline than fight it.

God still send us prophets of a sort – friends, teachers, bloggers, to keep us close or call us back.
If I learn from Israel’s Exile then I run to friends who have a godly word of caution – not away.

And those times in my life when I’m not “hearing” from God, I have to ask what it is that’s preventing it.
It’s always me – never Him. He always speaks. I either don’t – or won’t listen.

And Babylon never planned to destroy Israel. They had their eyes set on Egypt. Israel, by this time, was a tiny country along the route. It was hardly worth the bother. On the way to Egypt, other small nations yielded to a force they knew they couldn’t beat. They kept their land, and paid tribute taxes to Babylon – until 100 years later, when Babylon would give way to Persia.

But Israel? They felt sure of the protection of God which was only promised to them only if they were faithful.

They were not faithful…
and they were not protected…
and Babylon, who wanted to just drive by Israel…
was forced by Israel…

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…to destroy Israel.

Pride – to fall – to destruction.

And a little known fact, or known and forgotten; there were actually two deportations to Babylon for Israel. The first, for the ones who surrendered early without a prolonged fight, wasn’t so bad. The second, faced by a proud group who would not give into the discipline, was a bloody, ugly mess – and for most there would be no return or restoration from Exile – just death.

So I need always be wary of attempting to find a way,
on my own power, and my own terms,
to wriggle out of trouble that has all the signs of God’s discipline.

And if I learn from Israel’s Exile then I give God my full heart.
I think Our Lord must have meant it when he said:

I know your deeds, that they are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Rev 3:15,16)

There were so many half-hearted turns for Israel.

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Only a whole heart will do.

By the time of Exile…

Israel had all but deserted God…

and in a master stroke of Divine paradox…

he would desert them…

for a while…

in order to prove he would never desert them.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn August 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Dear Craig,

I can’t help but see the timelessness of God in all this. Paradoxically, it is now Persia (Iran) who wants to wipe Israel, “the little Satan,” off the map. Ahmadinejad wouldn’t have any Israeli problem at all if a former Persian ruler wouldn’t have let Esther convince him to stop the annihilation of the Jews in her time. The Persian Empire’s assent to the existence of a state of Israel was demonstrated when Persian money was used to fund Nehemiah’s building program in Jerusalem.

The lesson in all this for me is that the only one that I can eternally count on is God. At my work they have just made a complete administrative overhaul. I was among kindred spirits in the old administration. Now I am working in a truly hostile environment, in exile, so to speak. So what am I doing here? That is the question I ask myself today at Deep Into Scripture.

Thinking…,
Dawn

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Craig August 24, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Amen Dawn, Cyrus of Persia was a big Yahweh fan. I’ve never quite figured out why – except for just the word destiny – but Persia ended the exile. The middle east remains the crossroads – and epicenter of so much. And it is so cruel and unfair of the UN to give Israel back that patch of land – and now constantly be seeking to destroy it – I think you and I agree on this. And Dawn, thank you for the opportunity to pray for you and your work situation – done and done ツ God bless you!

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Martha Orlando August 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm

“To wriggle out of trouble that has all the signs of God’s discipline” – loved this! Such a reminder that we need to stay in tune with Him always. When things begin to go awry, we need to ask ourselves where, when, and how we strayed from the path He set us on and get back just as quickly as we possibly can. It’s no fun being in exile!

Blessings, Craig!

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Craig August 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

and I hearted this – “When things begin to go awry, we need to ask ourselves where, when, and how we strayed from the path He set us on and get back” – just because things are going awry doesn’t mean were being disciplined – but circumstances are the way he does so. This is why my posts are never complete until the comments are finished – you have added to this today – and you have me thinking of my life in more spiritual terms – just by what you wrote. I heart that. God hearts that. God bless and keep Martha.

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Cora August 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm

So what about MY heart? My past history tells me I’m not any better than Israel was. If there were a book named “Cora” in the Bible, the theme verse would be, “. . . and yet, she did not wholly follow after the Lord, but hardened her heart and turned to her own ways, paths that led to darkness and selfish gatherings of hay, wood and stubble.” (Can you tell I was raised in the King James Sunday School????) A whole heart!!!!! I’ve had a hard time with that all of my life. Even now, I THINK my whole heart is following after Him. Yet, time after time, I find this piece of it pulling the other way. Amazing, isn’t it, that we seem to be such slow learners. Even more amazing is that God is a God of second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Over and over and over again He takes me back with grace that is greater than all of me!!!!

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Craig August 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Cora my friend, yes – you have a KJV written all over you ツ and the whole heart? In reality there is no one on earth with a whole heart devoted to God – all a matter of degree – and why we need grace. I guess I could say the quest for a whole heart – and grace for the quest ツ God bless you Cora!

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Debbie August 25, 2011 at 12:42 am

I think this is a wonderful place to let us stop and ponder Exile, theirs and ours. :) And loving the comments, to remember to always ask Him to show me what part of my heart I need to give over to Him next. Because there’s always more to give, right?
God bless you as you seek Him as whole-heartedly as you can today!

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Craig August 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Debbie, sorry I’m so late responding to your comment – a little sleeplessness – a little sick – sorry. Amen too – there IS always more to give. Not a single one of us is wholehearted. One day…

God bless you Debbie!

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A. August 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Like Debbie, I need to keep pondering the condition of my own heart, and for this wonderful post, Craig, that provides the admonition and lessons for doing so. I never thought about their being two exiles. That is important lesson ‘concentrate’ for sure! Just add water… Thank you!!!

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Craig August 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

A. I might’ve said this already – if not – I’m sorry for responding so late to your comment – sleep has been extra wonky – being sick always catches me by surprise when it’s like this – you don’t really know you’re getting sick – because you think it’s just lack of sleep – and rest doesn’t really help when you’re not sleeping – but it does when you’re getting sick – when you confuse the two – you get sicker –grrrrrrr. Anyway, sorry I’m late (⌣˛⌣)

…and I guess there was really only one official “exile” – the Babylonian exile was the big “exile” – but people who wholeheartedly support the nation of Israel today will tell you that they were in exile until 1948 – from the time the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. until now – and even more views. Thank you A, as always: and as always, God bless you

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