For the Israelites of the Old Testament, Babylon meant exile, fear, and dread. When Nebuchadnezzar first laid siege to Jerusalem in 605 BC, he began exiling young Jews to Babylon. Among these was Daniel. Likely only a teen at the time, Daniel would never return home, though he lived well into his 80s.
Life as Daniel knew it changed forever. But he refused to allow the exile in Babylon to change him. He knew who he was. More importantly, he knew to Whom he belonged. Read the book of Daniel. It’s only 12 chapters. But it’s loaded with encouragement for those who live in Babylon.
Babylon? You’ve likely never been to Iraq. I haven’t. But we’ve been to Babylon. There are times when the address on the mailbox of life simply reads…Babylon. We’ve endured the exile of despair, doubt, death, perhaps even depression. Life can fall apart at a moment’s notice. Just one thing – a relationship collapse, a financial challenge, a heath difficulty, the current pandemic – can cause everything to change so quickly. Suddenly, we’re in a strange and dangerous place – afraid, uncertain, lost. The dust and ruin of Babylon has swallowed up many a soul.
But it doesn’t need to. Not if we remember who we are in Christ, and to Whom we belong. Scriptures that proclaim, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength,” (Philippians 4:13) and “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9b) are more than mere platitudes. They’re power-packed promises from the Lord who created and redeemed you.
It doesn’t matter where we are, even if it seems like an extended Babylonian exile. What matters is who we are, by grace, and Who is with us.
In a sense, our entire life on this earth is a journey through exile, through Babylon. You may be in “Babylon” right now, but not for long. This isn’t our permanent dwelling. We’re headed for home above with Jesus, away from exile, sustained by the love and mercy of Christ.
God be with you,
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand