Daniel glimpsed the eternal kingdom,
Ancient of Days,
In the collapse of his own.
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah encountered
Christ before Bethlehem
In the furnace of sevenfold heat.
Ezekiel beheld shekinah glory of God
And the Temple yet to be
From the banks of the Chebar canal.
Excluded from the gathering of the church,
Extracted from home and kin,
John witnessed the worship of multitudes.
The glory of God invaded his exile
With visions of the new Jerusalem,
The Lamb its light and temple,
Where no more salty sea can separate,
Where no more salty tears are shed.
Exiled, they encountered their God.
Exiled from earthly home, they glimpsed the heavenly.
Exiled, they dwelt enfolded in God’s wings,
Enclosed in His embrace.
Shall I go on?
Abraham, Joseph, Moses,
Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther—
And the Lord Jesus Christ Himself—
All testify from the great cloud of witnesses
To God’s faithfulness
In the land of their sojourn.
Exiled—not from home
But to home—
Exiled from society
To disorienting, familiar walls,
Same places, new purposes;
New rhythms, routines, habits, hardships;
Time stretching, contracting, collapsing in on itself.
In exile idols topple;
Sins bubble over.
Dross rises in the heat of tribulation,
In the crucible of confinement.
In exile, will we encounter God?
In exile, will we long for heavenly Home?
In exile, will we rest enfolded in His wings,
Enclosed in His embrace?
Or will we rebel like the Israelites
When God said, “Yield: trust me,”
And they fled to Egypt for help.
We will not emerge unchanged in any choice.
(No caterpillar ever emerged from a chrysalis.)
And emerge we will.
Likely not after seventy years
Or four hundred thirty,
As Israel did,
But in God’s time He will again
Extrude us into formerly familiar
Rhythms, routines, habits, hardships.
What will we carry with us out of exile?
Dross or gold?
Bitterness or the blessing
Of an encounter with the glorious God?
God’s exilic faithfulness
To the transformation
Of untold post-exilic generations.