The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” Nehemiah 1:1-3
It is political season in the US. Mid-term elections, in which over half the legislative branch of the national government is up for grabs, are being held today. Border security, foreign terror cells, and state-sponsored cyber threats have become central campaign rhetoric. One wonders if Fortress Americana is fortified after all.
Consider the Hebrews of Nehemiah’s day. Decades before, thousands had been carried off into exile. They were compelled to relocate to a foreign empire, learn a new language, obey new laws, and eat new foods. They had to fit into a new, and almost certainly hostile, social, economic, and political world. It must have been pretty tough to be a Hebrew in Susa.
But some lucky few had escaped the exile. Either by being overlooked or by luck they were allowed to remain in their homeland. They were free to worship their God. They were free to speak their own language, remain in their own homes, cultivate their own fields, and keep their social customs intact. It wasn’t all easy being under the occupation of a foreign power but, you have to think, those who escaped the exile were the lucky ones.
But somehow, those who remained in Jerusalem were the ones in distress. It is those who were force marched to a foreign land who had the wherewithal to come to the city’s rescue. How could that be? How were the ones dragged off in chains the safe ones and those who were allowed to remain untouched the vulnerable ones?
The answer is in Jeremiah 29. It turns out the Lord said He would be with those in exile but would send a sword against those who remained in Jerusalem.
There is at least one clear lesson for us. There is no safe place for us under heaven but where the Lord has called us to be. Don’t think by moving from red to blue state, or vice versa, or from this country to that, that you will gain security for you and yours. It is better to be in exile with the Lord than to be in the Holy City without Him. At this and all times, let’s put our trust in God Almighty, and in the good plan He has for us, wherever it might take us.