Carried away

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When we get “carried away” it’s not so serious.  Perhaps we’re a little overcome by a bout of silliness.  Or we lose track of the time in conversation.  Or we go a bit far as we rant about some pet topic.

But getting “carried away” in the bible was very serious.  The phrase is used about 60 times to refer to the people being uprooted from their land.  E.g.

“Judah was carried away out of their land.”  (2 Kings 25:21)

As we saw yesterday, the kingdom splits after Solomon.  Twenty northern kings later, “Israel” was “carried away” by the Assyrians.  And twenty southern kings later, “Judah” was “carried away” by the Babylonians.

It was an incredible wrench for the people of God.  In the original Hebrew, the verb for “carried away” was more literally “uncovered.”  The people felt naked.  This land of milk and honey was a tangible token of their new creation inheritance.  But now, just as Adam and Eve were booted out of paradise, so the people are booted out of the promised land.  Through disobedience, they are removed from the presence and favour of the LORD and put under a curse.

It’s in this period of exile that the people sing their lament:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.  (Psalm 137:1)

For 70 years they are “carried away.”

Then in the 6th century BC there was a pseudo-return from exile.  The people rebuild Jerusalem and its temple and physically resettle the land.  But it’s not a real return.

Matthew chapter 1 (the first chapter of the New Testament) surveys the history of the people from Abraham to the birth of Christ.  And in verse 17 Matthew concludes:

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Christ is the end of exile.  Not some ancient rebuilding project – the Messiah is the end of exile.  He crosses the Jordan in baptism to lead the people into true rest.

But here’s how He gives rest.  He carries His people home, by being carried away Himself.  You see Mark 15:1 says

They bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.

In judgement Jesus is handed over to the foreign ruler.   And on the cross He is stripped and uncovered, He is excommunicated – crucified outside the city, He endures the shame, He bears the curse, He suffers the estrangement, He pays for their sins.  Jesus is “carried away”  to the place of uncleanness and death.

But He rises up again at the Head of His people – the Heir of the world.  He is truly home now – at the Father’s side.  And when He moves to earth with His Father, the whole world will be our promised land.

Where is home for you?

If you belong to Jesus, He has carried you to the Father’s right hand.  And one day He will bring you in to the ultimate land of plenty.

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