Elsewhere in this blog, I posted my notes about God's glory and the Exile. The subject of God’s glory reminded me of Ezekiel 8-10, where the prophet describes the departure of glory from the Jerusalem temple. That, in turn, set me thinking about the biblical exile–more broadly, the conquest of the northern kingdom Israel by the Assyrians in about 722 BC, the conquest of the southern kingdom Judah by the Babylonians in about 586 BC, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple at that time, and the long period of exile in Babylon before many Judahites were allowed to return to the Land following the Persian defeat of Babylon. I thought about what a pervasive theme the exile is in the Bible. The story shapes the Bible both explicitly and implicitly.
The exile happened because (in the prophetic interpretation) God executed judgment against his people for faithlessness. But in spite of the vivid and immediate threats of the writing prophets, the exile does show the extraordinary patience and love of God. After all, over six hundred years separate the death of Moses and the beginning of Joshua’s conquest, with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in about 586 BC. Imagine a history beginning in the mid or late 13th century–St. Thomas Aquinas, the Mongol conquest of Russia, the completion of Dante’s Divine Comedy, etc.—and ending in the present day. So this long history shows how committed God is to “hang in” with people; God, too, forgives seventy times seven.