But I will gather you together, all you people of Israel that are left. I will bring you together like sheep returning to the fold. Like a pasture full of sheep, your land will once again be filled with many people.
God will open the way for them and lead them out of exile. They will break out of the city gates and go free. Their king, the Lord himself, will lead them out.
When I was a younger Christian, the church I attended held a series of talks on the promises of God and it was very helpful, especially as I was new in the faith. Restoration was one of that series and so it was lovely to find it in these readings as well. I don’t hear so much about the promises of God any more, at least not as a unified theme, but the Bible and Jesus Himself teach us how important it is to hold God’s promises in our hearts as deeply as possible.
After all, it’s very easy to forget all the good things that God has planned for us in our lives, as there is just so much else to concentrate on and worry about. Not only that, but our lives are so very busy that God’s promises often take a back seat in our priorities. At least, they do for me.
However, that’s exactly when it becomes so important to ponder on this wonderful passage to remind ourselves that, no matter how terrible things are right now and even in cases where we might consider ourselves to be abandoned by God, this promise is as true for us today as it was for the Israelites all those years ago. Because, however scattered we feel mentally and physically, God will gather us together and make us whole, both as individuals and as a people for His glory. Because, however barren our lives may be, God will fill us with all good things once more. Because no matter how trapped or crushed we feel, God will open the way and lead us into freedom again. He has sealed this promise through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and this promise will never fail.
Dear God, thank You that Your promise of personal and social restoration remains as true as it ever was. Help us to hold that promise at the centre of our lives and hearts so that it may encourage us deeply and also be a blessing for others. Amen
Anne Brooke is an attender of Elstead URC in Surrey.