Abraham lived in the city of Ur. In his day for his region, he lived in the most advantaged, opportune place that existed in his "known world" (Genesis 11:27, 28). A God [Who was new to him and was unlike the other gods he had known (Joshua 24:14)] asked him to leave, and eventually asked him to go to an unexplained, undisclosed destination (Genesis 12:1-5). He did, but Ur and Canaan were in major contrast!

When the Israelite slaves left Egypt, God did not direct them to the "short route" by the sea. He directed them to the "long route" through a desert (Exodus 13:17, 18). God knew those people would encounter war on the "short route." He feared war might change those Israelites' minds, and they might return to Egypt and slavery. The harsh way was actually the better way.

In 597 B.C. the first of three Israelite groups became Jewish captives in Babylon. Two of the Old Testament prophets were in that group -- Daniel and Ezekiel. Existing in strange conditions far, far from home in a forced exile from which they would not return was not a "wonderful experience." Two men whom God would choose and trust to be His spokesmen were among the first to go into Babylonian exile.

God gave us a perfect Savior. In this Savior, God redeemed us. Through that redemption, God gave us hope. That hope was based on God's mercy and grace. From God's mercy and grace flows incredible forgiveness. God did all that -- through death.

We struggle, agonize, suffer pain, and face disappointments. We are easily deceived. In our gullibility, we are often eager to believe any lie evil tells us. "Life is about feeling good -- indulge your feelings!" "Life is about security -- pursue money with passion!" "Life is about pleasure -- allow nothing to get in the way of having fun!" "Life is about success -- make any necessary sacrifice required to achieve your goals!"

How betrayed we are when our "feelings" change, our "security" crumbles, our "pleasures" enslave us, our "success" is cold and empty. How meaningless our lives become when what we "knew" as the all important measurements of life are not even an asterisk (*) in the footnotes!

Hard lessons for us to learn: (1) Today's greatest city may not hold tomorrow's promise. (2) The harsh way may be the best way. (3) Physical tragedy may be eternal opportunity. (4) Our most significant doorway to life may be death.

We cannot see ahead. Life often changes quickly as we stare in disbelief. We can trust God. His love for us does not change. Our future is secure in His hands.

What did Abraham, Daniel, and Ezekiel learn to do? Trust God. What did those Israelite slaves never learn to do? Trust God. Our major issue: regardless of what is happening or where we are, will we learn to trust God?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 20 October 2002

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