Reading: 2 Kings 24
The Messiah, the Christ, was to come and restore God's people and regather them. He was to reassign the desolate inheritances of the people (Isaiah 49:5, 8 for example; click here for a sermon on Isaiah 49). In order to understand the restoration which the Messiah will bring about, we must first understand the exile from which they are being restored.
The exile is one of the most significant events in the Old Testament. It stands in contradistinction to the exodus. In the exodus, God rescued His people from slavery in Egypt and brought them to the land of promise, the garden-like land of His presence. In the exile God threw His people out of the land of promise, the garden-like land of His presence and they went into captivity, a slavery of sorts, in Babylon. Is that what the exile is all about? Is there a deeper meaning?
The book of Kings comes to its sad conclusion essentially with the exile. In 2 Kings 24, we read of it and discover the deeper meaning.
It was because of the LORD's anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence. (2 Kings 24:20)
The exile is ultimately about being thrust from God's presence. One way to translate that is they were trust from God's face—i.e. from before His face. This exile began in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve ate from the tree. There God banished Adam from the Garden of Eden and drove him out, there man was kept from partaking of the tree of life (Genesis 3:23-34). Adam and Eve were exiles.
The Exodus out of Egypt, bringing Israel to the land of promise, was a picture of God returning His people from the exile. They were brought back to a garden-like land, and when they arrived to the land they entered from the east side of the garden-like land (Joshua 3:16) just like they left the garden. And there was a angelic, cherubim like creature guarding the way into the land (Joshua 5:13-16) (for more on this angelic swordsman, click here). Even the tabernacle was designed with a candlestick in the shape of a tree, likely representing the tree of life.
So the exodus from Egypt and being brought to the land is a picture of salvation from the first exile—the exile from God's presence in the Garden. But this salvation from slavery to Egypt was not sufficient. It was merely a shadow of the salvation to come. It was not sufficient for it did not deliver from sin, and that ultimately resulted in the exile of God's people from the land of promise. So the deliverance to come, the salvation from the second exile which the Christ, the Messiah, would bring about must ultimately deal with our deepest exile—the exile from God's presence.
If the exile is being booted out of the land, then the restoration from the exile is being returned to the land. But if the exile is being booted out of the presence of God, then the restoration from the exile is being returned to the presence of God. This is the work of the Servant Messiah to come. The Old Testament promises didn't end with the return from Babylonian captivity; they only end with the return to the presence of God led by the Messiah. Hence, in Isaiah 49:5, the work of the Servant is “to gather Israel to Himself.”
Through Christ we have access to the face of God, the presence of God, freely! God no longer says, "Get out of my face!" Rather, He bids us come boldly before His face. We come by a new and living way (Hebrews 10:19-22). And in Christ we return to the Garden of God, bearing fruit in His presence (John 15:1, 4-5). The real exodus, the ultimate salvation from captivity has truly occurred through the work of Jesus Christ.
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