Homecoming after Exile
by: Steven Bouma-Prediger
One cultural observer describes life today as “coping with the flux.” Our age is characterized as a time of ever accelerating change, motion, flux. Everything seems up in the air. All the familiar landmarks seem gone or only vaguely perceivable. We are living in a kind of exile.
One form of this contemporary exile is a sense of rootlessness. In the poignant words of one twenty-something nomad: “I have no beliefs. I belong to no community, tradition, or anything like that. I’m lost in this vast, vast world. I belong nowhere. I have absolutely no identity.” People feel homeless.
The people of Israel were in exile. They were homeless. All was in flux. Their identity was at stake. Indeed, their theology was in crisis. Have the gods of Babylon triumphed? How do we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? Where is God? In a foreign land hope had disappeared as fast as a wild pitch skipping past the catcher. Can you feel it? The desperate craving for the security of home?
To these cries Isaiah speaks the word of the Lord. God is a God of hesed—of enduring, steadfast love. God is like a nursing mother who shows compassion for the child of her womb. The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but God’s steadfast love shall not depart and God’s covenant of peace shall never be removed.