You may be thinking what I thought when I considered starting a blog:
“Another blog on the Bible and theology?” *closes tab*
But before you click away, I hope I can lay out a simple case on the reason why I started Exilic Theology. I will do this in 2 moves:
- Explaining the rich analogy of exile, and
- Defining the features of this blog.
You may be wondering why I chose to call this website Exilic Theology. Over the past 2 years, I have studied and reflected a lot on what it means to live on this earth in light of the redemptive narrative (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation). As I read through the Scriptures, I continually observed the theme of exile in the Scriptures.
Living Outside the Garden
We were created to live in the Garden of Eden and to cultivate it to its fullest potential. However, God expelled us from the garden because of our rebellion:
So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.Genesis 3:23, NIV84
From that moment forward, we read about how God’s people attempted to navigate how to live in their exile from the Garden.
- Adam and Eve labored in the field, not knowing when God would finally redeem them from their punishment.
- Cain and Abel sought to offer sacrifices to God, but Cain ended up killing his brother in jealously.
- Noah was preserved from the Flood because of his faithfulness, but faltered after he disembarked.
- The people of Babel centralized and instead of cultivating the whole earth, deciding to build up to the heavens.
- Abraham was justified because of his faithfulness, but continued to demonstrate distrust in God’s promises.
- Jacob favored Joseph, which led to his isolation and slavery in a foreign land.
- Pharaoh enslaved Israel as they sought refuge from famine in Egypt.
- Moses and Aaron learned how to lead the people out of Egypt so they could reside in the Promised Land.
I think you get the picture: the people of God, for all their success and failures, sought to understand what God required of them as they lived outside of the Garden.
The theme of exile is weaved throughout Israel’s history. As mentioned before, Joseph’s family fled to Egypt so they could escape famine. However, a ruler who did not know Joseph rose to power and enslaved the Israelites:
“Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the county.”Exodus 1:10, NIV84
As we read throughout Exodus, God continually broke down the nation of Egypt and eventually freed his people from their powerful rule.
As the people of Israel marched to the promised land, they returned to old habits and rebelled against God. They entered their second exile in the desert as they wandered back and forth for a generation:
The LORD’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the desert for forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.Numbers 13:32, NIV84
They eventually dwelt in the promised land. However, their story was still fraught with obedience and disobedience (2 Kings 17:7-23). Eventually, it led to their third exile:
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deport the Israelites to Assyria.2 Kings 17:6, NIV84
So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.2 Kings 25:21, NIV84
God did not leave them alone though. Through his prophets, God continually communicated his word to his people. And it was one such prophet—Jeremiah—who gave instructions on how to live as exiles in Babylon:
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.Jeremiah 29:5-7, NIV84
Essentially, the people of Israel were not to look for some escape or come to a stand still. Israel was supposed to continue to flourish and seek the betterment of the land they found themselves in.
Ezra and Nehemiah described Israel’s return back to the land God had promised and the rebuilding of their city. However, these people would enter yet another exile: 400 years of silence from God.
This exile of silence ended as Jesus entered this world because the Word of God wasn’t communicated orally, but through his Son. Jesus’ work set in motion our return from exile by removing the reason we were exiled in the first place: sin.
Now, here we are, in our own exile between Christ’s first and second coming. We are dwelling in our cities and towns, working day in and day out in our organizations, churches, and homes like Jeremiah wrote to Israel.
This blog is called Exilic Theology because although we have been exiled from the garden, we are living under God’s reign and we are on our way to the city of God:
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice form the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”Revelation 21:2-3, NIV84
The content of this blog will keep these truths in mind as we study the Bible and theology together.
Now that I have laid out a biblical foundation for exile, next week I will examine the mission, visions, and values of my intentions for this blog.
At the end of every post, I would like to give you a couple resources for further study. Some of these resources may challenge you in your thinking, provide support for your faith, or light a path for you to follow as you grow in the Lord. Be on the look out for these in future posts! For now, I’ll provide what I am currently reading:
- Bonem & Patterson, Leading from the Second Chair The main purpose of this resource is to help aspiring or current leaders serve in their “second chair” capacity, or not as the main leader
- Wilhoit & Dettoni, Nurture that is Christian The main purpose of this resource is to help educators understand different perspectives of human development and how it impacts education.
- Vanhoozer, Biblical Authority after Babel The main purpose of this book is to revisit the Reformation principles of the solas in order to recover biblical authority.