Friday, July 9, 2010

The Returning Exiles: Young and Old

I once asked the GLCC-Dagupan flock to put themselves in the shoes of the returning octogenarian and  nonagenarian exiles from  Babylon. I did so because the exiles 70 years old and below did not see the terror of Jerusalem's fall. The octogenarians and nonagenarians however saw it all. They witnessed how the buildings were burned including the King's Palace and even worse, the Temple. Beautiful Jerusalem turned to ashes before their very eyes.

Seventy years ago, they arrived at Babylon as grief-stricken young men. The sorrow in their hearts was so severe that even their best musicians hung their harps; their best singers can't sing.

  PS 137:3-4 for there our captors asked us for songs,
    our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
    they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

  How can we sing the songs of the LORD
    while in a foreign land?"

As time flew, they witnessed the death of the men older than them one by one. Upon reaching the age of 80, they told themselves, "I'm next, I shall never see Jerusalem again".

Suddenly, they heard the news that Babylon's king ordered the return of the exiles. He also agreed for the rebuilding of the city. That explains the joy described in Psalm 126:1-3

"When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
    we were like men who dreamed.

  Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
  Then it was said among the nations,
    "The LORD has done great things for them."

  The LORD has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

As I said, I asked the congregation to put themselves in the shoes of the elderly. My pastor, Jun Malazo however played the maverick's role that day. He put himself in the shoes of the younger ones instead.

They were already comfortable and settled in Babylon. They have their own families. They are peaceful and productive in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:4-7). It takes so much faith for them to rejoice in the King's order for them to return to Jerusalem.

What a faith indeed!

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