Banished

Today's devotion from Jeremiah 52Exile is not the greatest tragedy to befall Jerusalem. There were three waves of captives taken into Babylon with the first occurring as far back as 597BC. However, the bulk of this chapter deals with the fall of Jerusalem in 586BC, which is a date that is a marker in biblical history. What is it that led to such cataclysmic destruction? The answer to this question is not surprising. The people fell back into evil and rebellion against God. Finally at the end of His mercy, God banished the people from His presence. It is one thing to be exiled into Babylon. It is another entirely to be banished from the presence of God.

Yet, even this time would be redeemed by God. He uses this time in Babylon to fundamentally reshape aspects of Israel. Even things as basic as the Hebrew writing system and the form of writing is changed. However, it is during this time that Israel begins to take seriously their identity as people of the Law of God.

Without a land or borders, the people found their identity in the special revelations they had enjoyed. The Law of God took on a renewed role in the exilic community. While this sounds incredibly promising, ultimately, even this re-identification with the Law would prove to be disastrous for the Jews. In ways the people moved from neglecting God's Law to worshipping the Law.

Why couldn't they turn to God instead of the means of revelation?

The universal bent toward sin mangles everything. The religious leaders would be so enamored with the Law that they would fail to recognize the One who gave the Law, the One who fulfilled the Law, the One revealed by the Law.

This final chapter of Jeremiah's book conveys historical facts and answers some potential questions. Yet, the thing that we do not find at the conclusion of this powerful book is the final answer. He is still to come. What we do find is the constant reminder that He is needed.