In the summer of 2012, to meet the on-campus demands of my Master’s program, I spent more time away from home than I ever have – just shy of four weeks. It was a challenging experience to be away (and likely even more difficult for my wife, who was home with our three kids who were all under the age of six.) I’m remember the sheer excitement of coming home that August to my own family and my own house.
My time away from home is minimal compared to what a lot of my friends have to do, as work can regularly take them from home for many months – some for even longer. But even the experience of coming home after a year or two is nothing compared to what God’s people experience in the time period of ‘The Return,’ which we begin this week. Seventy years after the first exile from the southern Kingdom, a decree from the Persian King allows the Jews to return and to rebuild Jerusalem. For them being in exile would have been a mixture of anger and uncertainty mixed with hope. Would they ever see the Promised Land again? What had happened there since they’d been away? Could God’s promises be trusted?
As always, God unfolds things in his own time and in his own way – using a foreign king as his instrument alongside some of His chosen people. Check out the video below as we begin reading about Jerusalem is restored and the temple rebuilt in our readings over the next week and a half: