19–25 November 2017.
One of the hardest things in life is to let go of the people we love and watch them leave us. Children grow up, and then leave home to go study far away. Families separate to search for work in different cities. Friends leave us as their lives take them down pathways different from ours. And death takes our loved ones out of our arms and leads them away. Life is full of so many partings and separations.
In our faith lives we also see these partings, as people turn from God and wander away from him. What hurts us most is when it’s people we love who do that. We watch helplessly as our friends, family, and loved ones turn from God and, like lost sheep, wander away. We try to stop them, to encourage them to stay with God, but sometimes these decisions are out of our control. When that happens, is there any hope left?
The Israelites went through the same experiences. When enemies attacked them, they watched their children get killed in those wars; they watched as death pulled their children out of their arms. Those that survived also watched their loved ones get dragged off into exile far away. There was nothing they could do about it; they were helpless. And after the destruction of Israelite cities, many who were left just wandered away, leaving their hometowns to try find a better life somewhere else. Families fell apart, friendships were broken, people were separated from each other and from God, and life seemed so lonely and hopeless.
But in Isaiah 27:13, we hear a great message, a message of hope: There will be a great reunion. In the future, God will blow his trumpet and all those who were taken away from us will come back. Those who were lost to us will find their way back home. When that great trumpet blows, even loved ones who had been taken away by death will come home again and back into our arms. On that day, God’s trumpet will sound, and those who (like lost sheep) had wandered away from God will also come home – they will come back from their sins, back from their wandering, back from the valley of the shadow of death to be with God and us again. That’s not just a hope; that’s God’s promise to us. On that great day, God will blow his trumpet and all the powers of the world that separated us from each other and from God will be defeated. And we will celebrate an incredibly happy, long-awaited reunion!
Pastor Stephen Lakkis