Judah spent 70 years in enforced confinement. You are spending weeks in quarantine, which is like enforced confinement. It’s not as bad but still restrictive. Ancient Judah has four lessons for you.
Things Don’t Always Go Your Way
Judah, and Israel before them, thought the future was bountiful. They lived in relative peace and went about their daily tasks in a comfortable routine (Amos 6:1). Suddenly, their expectations and hopes crumbled. Their hopes for a quiet life changed drastically.
Today, things are not going the way you expected, either. Three months ago, we were thinking about spring break, the end of the school year, graduations, and summer vacations. Major surgery only requires 6 to 8 weeks of recovery, but this is still dragging on.
Trouble Comes When You Don’t Expect It
Judah should have seen trouble coming; they missed it. Their northern cousins went into captivity over a hundred years earlier. Enemies attacked, but God always prevented their capture. Not this time. Their faithlessness was overwhelming. Babylon rolled into Judah and began resettling the people.
We should have seen this pandemic coming. Experts have warned of such an event for generations. The world has suffered through many devasting, illnesses including the Spanish Flu of 1918 and the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) of the 14th century. Smallpox killed half a billion of us before we conquered it in 1977. We were surprised, even though we shouldn’t have been.
Don’t Take the Presence of the Lord for Granted.
Babylon took Judah into captivity; separating them from the Temple. Since the Temple’s construction by Solomon in about 1000 BC, the people had enjoyed a strong visual reminder of the presence of God. It was the place of God’s high and holy name (2 Chronicles 6:18). Moses had commanded three visits to the Temple annually (Deuteronomy 16:16). They would be reminded of the Lord’s presence each time.
It is different for Christians. Our bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Christ lives in us (John 17:23; Galatians 2:20). We don’t have a Temple. The church building is just that, a building that meets the needs of the Christians. It is neither holy nor divine.
Still, the assembly together of saints is a vital part of our lives. We see the Lord living in the lives of one another in a way that is impossible with the disassembled assembly. Weekly worship assemblies become common. We may have been guilty of taking them for granted. I hope we will never do that again.
Reunion Will Be Sweet
Judah eventually left their restricted domicile. They returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt the destroyed Temple, and worshipped God according to his plan (Ezra 6:13–18). The Bible says they celebrated with “great Joy” (vs. 16).
When we assemble together physically, and we will, it will be a time of great joy and happiness. A day doesn’t pass that someone doesn’t mention how they miss the assembly of the church. Jesus wants his people to be together. In Acts 2, they were together and “from house to house.” That day is coming again.
We must remember these lessons and teach them to our children.