Sermon: “Faithfulness in Exile” (Daniel 1:1-21)

by Oct 20, 2019Sermons0 comments

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.

8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore, he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore, they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.Daniel 1:1-21, ESV

It’s been said before, rightly I think, that as Christians we all have a calling to be theologians. Now by that I’m not saying that all of us have been called to receive formal theological training in a seminary environment. Nor that all of us must digest a rigorous theological reading program. All of us are called to engage in theological reflection on the truths we profess to believe in. After all, we all walk through life with theological assumptions about ourselves, about the world and about God anyway. All of us live with an operative theology. The only question for us to ask is whether that’s good theology at work or bad theology at work.

While intentional theological reflection in all of life should be what we strive for as Christians. Both the highs and the lows, that should be our goal. I’ve found in my own life and ministry that there is something unique, or even tragedy, that has a particular way of stimulating theological reflection. When we encounter tragedy, whether of a personal kind or a national tragedy that offers us the opportunity to speak into conversations going on in the world. When tragedy or disappointment unfolds, theological reflections usually follows. Those things force us to clarify, both for ourselves and for others, what it is we believe about God.

When we open the book of Daniel this morning, we learn that the characters of the book and the original recipients of the book in the sixth century BC are dealing with a tragedy of their own. They are dealing with what is the watershed tragedy in Israel’s history, the exile.

The book of Daniel is set in the context of Israel’s 70-year exile. For the people of God, the exile is one of the tragedies that forced them to reflect on a number of theological questions. Such as, Has God abandoned us for good? Is it possible to be faithful to God in the reality of this exile in a foreign land among a foreign people steeped in foreign practices? Will there be a day when God will bring us out of exile and carry us home?

This is the setting and the kinds of questions that the prophet Daniel addresses throughout Daniel as he helps lead his people, the people of God, reflect Biblically and soundly on these theological questions in light of their situation in exile.

Daniel is a book we might say is in many ways for exiles. In that way, Daniel is very much for you and me too. As the Apostle Peter tells us, we are also exiles and sojourners in this world. As such, we also have questions about our own exile, questions such as, “How do we stay faithful amidst all of the pressures, subtle or not, that try to move us away from the Lord? What is God up to, what is he doing in the midst of our exile, especially when we encounter forms of tragedy of our own? When is God, according to his promises, going to bring us home?”

Our big idea this morning is, God’s faithfulness in exile leads us to faithfulness as exiles.
We are going to see that God’s faithfulness towards his people is what gives us hope. Despite our status as exiles and sojourners, we can live a life of faithfulness throughout our exile. So, as we work through this passage, we will see this point develop in three points.

  1. God Gives into Exile, 1:1-7
  2. God Gives While in Exile, 1:8-16
  3. God Gives Through Exile, 1:17-21

God Gives into Exile

When Daniel opens, we learn a bit of history that gives us the setting for this first section, as well as for Daniel as a whole. We read in verse one,

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzarking of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.Daniel 1:1-7, ESV

Let me give you a bit of background for what is going on here. In the years leading up to this significant event that Daniel narrates in verse one, God’s people were but a shadow of who they once were under the reign of King David and King Solomon centuries prior. Since the reign of King Solomon, the kingdom had been split in two. The northern part of that kingdom had already been carried into exile themselves.

Now just before the events that Daniel tells us about in verse one, Judah, which is what is left over of the kingdom, had basically been become a puppet kingdom for whoever the power broker in the region of the day was.

For a time that was Egypt, then it became Babylon. The event that Daniel tells us about in verse one is when Judah was forced to change their allegiance. Functionally, they now belonged to Babylon. The even described in Daniel 1:1, and the deportation of people that we read about in verse two and three, wasn’t the end of Judah.

Judah would remain for another 15-20 years before Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon finally had enough of their good failure to act as a good puppet kingdom. About 15-20 years later, after the events Daniel tells us about in verse one through three, the armies of Babylon would destroy the city of Jerusalem. They tore down the temple, burned the city and carried away the bulk of the population into exile into Babylon.

The event in Daniel 1:1-3 isn’t quite that final event which will happen 15-20 years later. It is the beginning of Judah’s 70-year exile in captivity in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon are in the driver’s seat and they remind Judah that they are in control. It’s not the puppet kingdom that they had set up and certainly not Egypt anymore. They took some of the vessels of the house of God into Babylon and some of the best and brightest among the nobility of Judah into Babylon.

These were actions that were meant to signal to Judah that the set apart people of God no longer belong to God, but they now belong to Babylon. That whole situation of exile wasn’t demoralizing enough, we also learn that when the best and the brightest were brought to Babylon, they then underwent this program of re-education that was designed to ease their obedience to their new Babylonian overlords. These best and brightest youths were taught the language and the literature of the Chaldeans. Then they were assigned a daily portion of the king’s food to eat. Finally, they were given new names, in verse six and seven.

The significance of those new names isn’t readily seen in English. In Hebrew, these names are meant to extol God. Daniel’s Hebrew name meant “God is my judge”. Hananiah’s name meant “Yahweh has been gracious”. But their new names, the names they are given in Babylon are names that are intended to extol the pagan gods of Babylon and not the Lord any longer.

Exile was demoralizing for a number of reasons, but one of the reasons is that Nebuchadnezzar was trying to wipe away the memory of the Lord from the best and the brightest in the hopes that it would have ripple effects down through the rest of the people as history steams forward. Can you imagine how demoralizing such a tragedy would have been for God’s people who at this point are still trying to live by faith.

In another passage of scripture, in Psalm 137 we are invited into the cry of lament that characterized this exile for God’s people. Psalm 137 is one text of a few is a window into how demoralizing this exile was for the faithful among God’s people. In Psalm 134:1-4,

By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song
in a foreign land?
Psalm 134:1-4, ESV

How should we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? That was one of the questions that the people of God were asking in the midst of exile? This experience in exile produced for Daniel and the people of God produced questions like, how can we sing praises while being apart from the temple? Where the worship of God was supposed to take place? How can we be faithful to the commands of God? What is our exile and present situation even say about God himself? What in the world is he up to?

Yet, for all of these questions that the tragedy of exile exposed, Daniel gives us a glimmer of hope. He reminds us that as demoralizing as exile was for God’s people, God wasn’t absent. Notice in verse two that although from the perspective of history, Judah’s exile was partially a result of Nebuchadnezzar’s military supremacy, it was ultimately the work of God’s providence.

We learn in verse two that it was the Lord who gave Jehoiakim king of Judah
into his hand. In fact, throughout this chapter, commentators note is that the catchphrase is “God gave” or “the Lord gave”. We will see later that it was the Lord who gave Daniel favor in exile. Later we will learn that it was God who gave Daniel and his friends learning and faith in exile.

In other words, despite the demoralizing tragedy of exile, it wasn’t to be interpreted as a triumph of the Babylon pantheon of God’s over Israel. No, it was an event that was subject to the providence of God. It was God’s providence that these things happen. The scriptures teach us that from start to finish, there is no event, person or sphere that is outside of God’s control.

From the apostle Paul, from the language of Ephesians 1:11, God works all things, not just some things, not just most things, he works all things according to the council of his will. He upholds, he governs, and directs all things to their God ordained ends. As the wheels of history turn, they are ultimately directed at every step by the ordained purposes of God. This is the providence of God.

So even though Israel’s descent was God’s act of judgement upon them for their sin and they only had themselves to blame. Israel had violated the terms of the covenant that God had graciously entered into with them, they turned away from God and they didn’t listen to the prophets as they spoke one after the other. Nonetheless, it was ultimately God’s providence at work steering these God ordained events to their ends. God is not the author of sin, nor does he approve of sin, but everything that transpired was and is ordered and governed by God’s works of providence. Everything is in God’s hands.

You know why that’s good news for us and good news for the people in Daniel’s days? As Cornelius Van Dam puts it, God’s hands are good hands. For God’s people, when we are forced to face tragedy and even if that tragedy, like Israel, is the result of our own sin, God’s providence teaches us that God is directing all things and working all things for his glory. Which also happens to be for our good.

Our Westminster Confession of Faith tells us, “As the providence of God does in general reach to all creatures, so after a most special manner it takes care of his church and disposes all things to the good thereof.” This is the hope that the people of God in Daniel’s day are called to lay hold of as well.

One commentator notes that recognition that their faith ultimately comes from God’s hands as a faithful act of judgement is actually an encouragement because it reminds them that their futures and their ends aren’t controlled by the Babylon gods or kings. Their present and their future are firmly in the hands of the Lord.

So, whatever God’s people are called to walk through, in whatever stage of history they are called to walk through, they need to know, and we need to know this too, that nothing happens by chance. Everything that happens, whether we can make sense of it on this side of glory or not, happens by the providence of God. We will reflect on that truth again in a few minutes.

God Gives While in Exile

We now come to the next part of our passage in verse eight through sixteen,

8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore, he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” 11 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. 16 So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. .Daniel 1:8-16, ESV

One of the first things we learn in the next part of our passage is that despite the sin of God’s covenant people, despite the spiritual bankruptcy that characterized Judah’s existence, there were some in Judah who were committed to live in faithfulness to God, even in exile.

There’s apparently something about the food that Daniel was given that he found unacceptable. There are a number of reason that we could speculate why Daniel chose to take his stand on this particular issue. It may have been that the king’s food stood in violation of the ceremonial food laws that were given in the Old Testament. Or perhaps the king’s food was defiled because it had been used as a sacrifice previously to Babylon gods. Or perhaps Daniel takes a stand to avoid total assimilation into the Babylon way of life. There are a number of possibilities why Daniel took his stand here. We can’t quite be sure; it may have been a combination of those reasons.

Whatever we decide on these issues, the thing underlining every single one of them is that the desire in Daniel’s heart and mind is to communicate that the source of his dependence will not be on the king or the Babylon gods. His dependence will be on the Lord to provide in exile. Daniel is not going to be indebted to the king to give him what he needs. No, he’s going to be indebted to a dependent on the Lord for his wellbeing.

So, with this conviction in tow, we see in our text that Daniel comes up with this plan. He first approaches the chief of the eunuchs, then the steward assigned immediate oversight over him. By God’s providence, these individuals go along with the plan that Daniel hatches. They allow Daniel and his friends to abstain for ten days and then after ten days they will examine their appearance and if all seems well, they will be free to maintain their diet in perpetuity.

So, as we continue in verse eight through sixteen, we learn that at the end of the ten days their plan succeeded. They were in far better appearance than all who ate the king’s food.

We see in verses eight through sixteen, the wisdom and faithfulness of Daniel in navigating a really difficult situation. In fact, one of the most startling phrases that I see in the section is the phrase that opens verse eight. “But Daniel resolved.” What I find incredible about that phrase is that even after experiencing the crushing blow of exile, Daniel still has a resolve to honor God.

Think about how often our resolve to honor God is let down in the little things when we are let down. Or think about how sometimes we think that destruction or tragedy, as crushing as that might be, gives us permission to suspend our obedience to God for a little bit, as if we deserve to do our own thing if God isn’t coming through in the way that we expect. We just saw that take place during the last few months in the book of Malachi. Yet here we have someone who is dealing with an identity rocking tragedy His life in every way has been shaken to the core. Yet Daniel resolves to honor God

If we closed our Bibles at this point and we said amen. We would have seen a historical figure live a life of obedience, but we would have missed the point. Daniel’s wisdom, respect, patience, and skill in navigating a difficult, and possibly dangerous situation, are clearly a concern in our text. Daniel’s faithfulness, while there is something to be said for that, is not the main point of this text. In case you were wondering, the point also has nothing to do with the supremacy of a vegan diet.

Instead, the main point, once again, is the Lord’s faithfulness towards his people. Once again, we read in verse nine, “and God gave.” God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs. Whatever we might say about Daniel’s faithfulness, it’s God who blesses Daniel and his friends in this situation, both before, during and after the tests that they take. It’s the Lord who is at work in this pagan and polytheistic infused environment. Just as the Lord in the words of Proverbs turns the king’s heart wherever he wills, so too it’s the Lord who directs that hearts of the chiefs of eunuchs and the steward.

From the start to finish, the spotlight in this text falls on the Lord and his faithfulness. The main message of this passage isn’t, be like Daniel. It’s fundamentally rests in the faithfulness of Daniel’s God, who even in the midst of exile is faithful to lead and direct his people for their good unto his glorious appointed ends. He doesn’t abandon his people even in exile. No, in a sense he goes with his people into exile.

Friends, he hasn’t abandoned us in our exile either. Instead, while we have been defiled by sin, while we are so often stained by the sins of this world and while our resolve in this life is but a glimmer of Daniel’s resolve, we stand in union and communion with Jesus Christ, justified through faith alone. Jesus who was scorned and beaten by those who bound him into captivity and yet remained resolved to do God’s will in faithfulness, even unto death.

We are going to see as we work through Daniel in the next few months that Daniel’s person and the prophetic message that he announces both point to Jesus Christ, the faithful and true. That’s the hope Daniel’s contemporaries were called to look forward to. Friends, that’s the hope that anchors us in our exile.

That’s not the end, because just as God gives while in exile, he also gives through exile. This leads to our final point.

God Gives Through Exile

17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore, they stood before the king. 20 And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. 21 And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.Daniel 1:17-21, ESV

We are in the final part of this passage and we learn what happened in the aftermath of their successful test. We learn that God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom. Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. God gave Daniel and his friends success in learning all that they were called to learn. God gave them understanding in visions and dreams, which will come in handy when we get around to chapter two. After three years of training and indoctrination into the way of Babylon were complete, they were brought before the king and God gave them favor before King Nebuchadnezzar.

This is good news for Daniel and for his friends. They found favor with their captors and more importantly they found favor with the king of Babylon. Yet we know that kings come and go. It’s never certain that your status in one administration is going to extend into future administrations. We know that from politics of our own day. When we get a new president into the White House, the cabinet and administration is overturned again and again.

That’s true here in Daniel’s day too. Moreover, even under Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel and his friends faced one challenge and by God’s grace they passed it. But what about the next challenge and the one after that? Will God sustain them through the entire reign of King Nebuchadnezzar? Will God sustain them through future kings of Babylon? Will other kings remember Daniel and his friends, or will they forget much like Pharaoh at the time of Exodus forgot about Joseph? Will God sustain them not just through Babylon and the kingdom of Babylon, but what about other kingdoms that follow in succession? Do they have hope for their future?

The answer is yes because just as the Lord preserved them through this initial test in chapter one, when chapter one comes to a close, we learn that God would preserve Daniel through not just three years, nor even just through the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, but also through the entire seventy years of exile. We read in verse twenty-one, “And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus.”

Many Babylon kings would come and go, and Daniel would outlive each and every one of them. God would equip Daniel and his friends to stand before multiple kings and multiple kingdoms, not only Babylon but also Persia which would come. At they would pronounce the wisdom of God into what seemed, for the people of God, a dire and hopeless situation.

That doesn’t mean that exile would be threat free for them. Daniel and his friends would face multiple dangers and threats on their lives throughout it. We will encounter many of those dangers as we work through Daniel’s prophecy. God would preserve his people through it. He would preserve his church.

This is one of the main messages of Daniel. Kings and kingdoms will rise and fall, but through it all the Lord will keep a remnant for himself throughout their exile. He will establish his own kingdom that will be an everlasting and eternal one. This is the hope held out for exiles in Israel in the 6th Century BC, and for exiles like you and me in the 21st Century AD.

Chapter one raises the question of is it even possible for somebody to remain faithful to the Lord in exile? Is it possible to stay committed to God and his purposes? The answer it provides is yes. Not because of our faithfulness or anything that we bring to the table. It’s because we have a God who stays committed to us and who is faithfully engaged with his people in exile. You know what, he promises that one day he will bring us home.

Let us consider a few applications from this text. How are we, the people of God in the 21st Century AD, called to live faithfully in view of this text?

Application

  1. Know who you are. The Apostle Peter tells us in the New Testament that we are also exiles. One of the prevailing metaphors that we come across in the scriptures to describe the Christian life is one of exile and sojourn. The Apostle Peter isn’t the only one to use that language. In Philippians 3:20, we are told that our citizenship, where we belong and where we claim residence, isn’t fundamentally here, it’s in heaven. The author of Hebrews tells us, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek a city that is to come.”Of course, in this world we may experience incredible benefits and good gifts from the Father of Light. We can delight in God’s creation and the many good things that he gives us in this life to enjoy. We should also work as good citizens in this world and seek the welfare of the city into which we have been placed. But on this side of glory we are still exiles and sojourners.

    That identify has a profound effect on what we expect of this world and what we think will really satisfy the desires of our soul in this world. That identity should lead us to be distinct in this world. Distinct in how we engage the world and distinct in what we bring to the world. That identity reminds us that we don’t take our cues from the God’s of this world. We look to the Lord for our cues and trust his promise that our exile isn’t endless, and our sojourn isn’t aimless.

    Know who you are and constantly ask yourself if you are living out of that identity or whether you are more at home in this world than you should be.

  2. Conduct yourself with modesty and respect during the time of your exile. When I studied this passage, a number of commentators drew my attention to the manner in which Daniel conducts himself in captivity. Notice that when he resolves not to defile himself with the king’s food, he doesn’t broadcast his intentions with some kind of obnoxious show of defiance. Instead he respectfully approaches the chief of the eunuchs.Daniel hears his concern, even while holding his convictions firmly. Then he hatches a plan that won’t get anyone in trouble of draw any sort of unwelcome attention. Daniel is not confrontational in the midst of a confrontational world. As Sinclair Ferguson notes, in view of 1 Peter 2:23, there is something Christ like about Daniel’s spirit.

    23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23, ESV

    Friends, whatever pressures we face in our exile, and we will face pressures in our exile. More so in other parts of the world than here, but we do experience them. The nations rage and the peoples will plot in vain. Nonetheless, there’s no reason for us to lash out in rage. Instead we are called to stand with a Christ-like spirit and entrust our future to God’s hands. Afterall, they are good hands. Take hold of that.

  3. Rest in the providence of God. We talked a bit about the providence of God, but I want us to hear and consider what the Heidelberg Catechism says on this important doctrine. The Heidelberg Catechism is another reformed confession. In question and answer twenty-eight, the Heidelberg Catechism asks,

    Question: What does it benefit us to know
    that God has created all things
    and still upholds them by his providence?
    Answer: We can be patient in adversity,
    thankful in prosperity,
    and with a view to the future
    we can have a firm confidence
    in our faithful God and Father
    that no creature shall separate us
    from his love;
    for all creatures are so completely in his hand
    that without his will
    they cannot so much as move.
    Heidelberg Catechism, #28

    Despite what the world might tell us, we are not on the wrong side of history because we have a God who moves the wheels of history to his ordained ends. So, we can be patient in adversity. The fruit of the spirit isn’t suspended in our exile. We can be thankful when we are going through exile in a way that God is providing richly for us, knowing that everything we enjoy is a gift from the Father of Lights. We can have firm confidence that whatever tragedies we face in our exile, our God has secured for us a future, only in Christ alone through faith alone. In which nothing on the face of this earth, nor in heaven, nor in hell will be able to separate us from his love through God in Christ Jesus.

    How do we remain faithful in our exile? How do we navigate theological reflection that is sparked by tragedy when it comes our way? The answer that Daniel gives us is that we look to God’s faithfulness in our exile. We look to Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

Let me pray.

Our Lord and our God, we thank you for your abundant faithfulness toward your children. We thank you that in your grace you have called us out of darkness, you have called us into your marvelous light. Although we live in this already, not yet, waiting for you to bring us home, we know that we don’t stand here as orphans. Nor do we stand as people isolated on an island just doing our own thing. We stand in union with Christ. You have given us the deposit of your Spirit. You have strengthened and empowered us in this life to live a life of faithfulness through Jesus Christ, by looking to him and his faithfulness. I pray that we would do that this morning and every morning that we wake, live, move and have our being. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

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