By Nick Ratcliff Jr | November 16, 2019
It wasn’t their home. Everyone knew it, but they had said so for many years now. It was handed down from parent to child, and then again, for generations. And yet, the land that had been foreign had become comfortable. There was great opportunity for profit, a rich culture, and entertainment. They had built houses, planted gardens, and maintained education for nearly 150 years. Some had returned to their native land 80 years earlier, though many had chosen to stay in the land of exile. Now, though, some of the leaders were again stirring up the idea of going “home”—to a city that was wrecked. Some responded, but many dragged their feet and decided to stay, giving up on their dreams.
Eagerness buzzed through the gathered travelers, but there was a problem: “I assembled the exiles,” said Ezra, “and we camped there for three days while I went over the lists of the people and the priests who had arrived. I found that not one Levite had volunteered to come along.” Ezra 8:15. No Levites??? No keepers of the dream were among those returning to Jerusalem? How is this possible? Ezra dispatched 9 leaders to appeal to the Levites, and 2 families responded, determined to cast in their lot with those returning to their ruined home.
“There is nothing new under the sun.” Paul wrote, regarding one of his former colleagues in service, “Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica….” (2 Timothy 4:10). Parallel choices, for good or for ill, have been made over the centuries, and will be made in the future.
“Next year in Jerusalem.” It is the phrase sung by the scattered Jews, even today, at the end of Passover—a hopeful reminder that they are not at home, and that there is a higher calling, a homeland.
Hebrews 11, discussing the faith Hall of Fame members, says that “they did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Don’t it make you want to go home?
Nick Ratcliff Jr is a father, a physical therapist, and a hiker who lives in Cashmere and wants to go home to heaven.