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  • Writer's pictureFritha Dinwiddie

A WAY HOME

Orig. 10/6/63 Rewr. 12/28/75

Passage:

Remember, Lord, what has happened to us; look, and see our disgrace. 2 Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners. 3 We have become fatherless, our mothers are widows. 4 We must buy the water we drink; our wood can be had only at a price. 5 Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest. 6 We submitted to Egypt and Assyria to get enough bread. 7 Our ancestors sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment. 8 Slaves rule over us, and there is no one to free us from their hands. 9 We get our bread at the risk of our lives because of the sword in the desert. 10 Our skin is hot as an oven, feverish from hunger. 11 Women have been violated in Zion, and virgins in the towns of Judah. 12 Princes have been hung up by their hands; elders are shown no respect. 13 Young men toil at the millstones; boys stagger under loads of wood. 14 The elders are gone from the city gate; the young men have stopped their music. 15 Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned! 17 Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim 18 for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it.

19 You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. 20 Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? 21 Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old 22 unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.

Keywords: Grace

Introduction

Have you ever been at one of those places in life where you were so far from home that you thought you would never get back? It didn’t matter whether it was in actual miles or in emotional separation, you just could not sense a return.

One of the burdening experiences of King David’s life was in regard to the old home place. He spoke to some of his captains about his desire for a drink of water from the wells of home. He discovered later that these men went at great peril to themselves to satisfy this need in their king.

Someone has characterized the whole of Hebrew history as a series of varying relationships to God in which they are at home only when they are at home in Him. There were pictured three distinct phases in their emotional relationship with God. The three phases were (1) rejection—leaving home; (2) repentance—yearning for home; (3) restitution—finding their way home again.

James G. Elliott, the Kansas-born playwright, tells an interesting story about his return home. He had left the Kansas plains as a young man and had gone to the big city intent on making a name for himself. Only after achieving a measure of success for himself did he long for home once again. He made his plans. He let his people know he was coming because they just might want to honor a local boy who had made a name for himself. The train stopped at his little Kansas town, and he went to the door of the train and couldn’t believe what he saw—nothing. The mayor was not there. No bands were playing. There was not a single person at the station to welcome him home. He dejectedly went to the baggage office to claim his luggage, and as he approached the station master, the old man looked up, recognized him, and said, “Hello, George! Going somewhere?”

What better time than the advent of a new year to consider this that was Israel’s plight, which is also our plight? They thought they were going somewhere only to discover upon getting there that they had rather be where they had been before.

I. First, Then, Consider the Rejection. Now it really doesn’t matter whether in actual act God rejected them, or whether they just felt rejected. The end result was the same. We have good reason to believe that God doesn’t isolate himself from His people. Rather, by our sin, we so cloud and compromise His majesty and authority, we lose our sense of His presence.

Israel sensed this separation in the loss of their valuables. Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens. Understand that this means more than commodities. This is more than just a criterion of political prominence. Their very birthright and inheritance as the people of God seemed to vanish.

It is more than coincidence that this is mentioned first. America comes to the very eve of her bicentennial year with a profound sense of losing some of the very things that have made us.

We were guaranteed freedoms four: Speech, Religion, Press, and Assembly. Yet we seem ready to sacrifice all of these, so long as we retain freedom to acquire.

The second step in Israel’s plunge to oblivion was in that the fathers ceased to be the dominant figure in the homes and spiritual lives of the people. V3 “We are orphans and fatherless. Our mothers are widows.” There is a larger spiritual context for this in that they had lost the spiritual fatherhood of God. But in everyday terms the fathers had capitulated to the political system that controlled them. They were lackeys to foreigners and, as such, had lost their vision.

It appeared in cartoon form but really wasn’t very funny. Two young mothers were talking. “I finally figured a way to balance our budget, but I can’t get Tom to take a second job.” Israel had sacrificed the spirit for the flesh. V6 “We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.”

Are we giving the hand to pleasure and reaping the fruits of licentiousness? Are we giving the hand to a guaranteed income and showing the signs of greed and indifference? Are we giving the hand to the status quo and distorting our own witness as Christians?

H.L. Mencken wrote: “The cosmos is a gigantic flywheel making ten thousand revolutions per minute. Man is a sick fly taking a ride on it.”

II. Whether the Rejection is Real or Felt is Academic. The Real Issue has to be “What Is the Reason?” V7 “Our fathers have sinned and are not, and we have borne their iniquities.” Sin has captivated their hearts and they are not able to come to terms with guilt and responsibility. Did you read the top New Orleans news stories for last year? Almost without exception they speak of evil deed and corruption. Sin is not just the lifestyle of the grossly immoral.

The arrest rate is 3 out of 100 citizens. Rape is up 10%, murder is up 6%, aggravated assault 7%. Narcotics addiction may be a half million. Divorce since 1970 is up 25.7% while the marriage rate has increased only 2.8%. There are 200,000 more outlets for alcohol than there are churches. Gambling is in excess of $30 billion. There may be as many as 40 million children with no religious instruction. The cost of crime is five times the amount of money spent on education.

III. Consider the Restitution. What was it the prophet said? V21 “Turn Thou us O Lord, and we shall be turned.”

Repentance. I do not believe that man can or will take the first step. God has already taken the first step.

Reaction. When we ask God’s help it always comes. We must realize our inability. We must yield.

Restoration. Verse 22 is the saddest in all the Old Testament. “But Thou hast utterly rejected us.” It does not have to happen this way.

Closing

I have renounced all sinful pleasure; Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.

Nothing between my soul and the Saviour, so that His blessed face may be seen.

Nothing preventing the least of His favor; keep the way clear! Let nothing between.

Nothing between, like worldly pleasures, habits of life, though harmless they seem.

Must not my heart from Him ever sever; He is my all, there’s nothing between.

Nothing between my soul and the Saviour, so that His blessed face may be seen.

Nothing preventing the least of His favor; keep the way clear! Let nothing between.

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