Chapters 7 and 8
One Key Quote
“…through the journey, God’s people found a shared sense of belonging, purpose and hope. And this is what we all crave”page 118
Chapter 7: Exile, Homesickness and the Hope for New Life. This chapter continues the story of Israel who are now in exile because of God’s judgement on their idolatry. But, as well as the theme of God’s judgement, the prophetic writings also contain much on the hope of restoration for his people, and indeed for the whole world. This chapter looks at some of the main promises of this hope. In response to Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness, God offers the hope of covenant renewal as their faithful husband, returning to remarry her. To this rebellious people who tried to rule without God, there is the promise of a returning king or Messiah. To these lost sheep who have turned to their own way, there is the promise of a good shepherd to lead them from their exile back to green pastures. To this wayward son, Israel, there is the promise of a loving Father coming to gather them and adopt them afresh. The story of Israel ends with them still looking and longing for the ‘only One’ who can fulfil all these promises.
Chapter 8: Reflections: The Power of Story. Reviewing our story encourages thankfulness as we recount God’s faithfulness on our journeys. PH does this as he looks back over the story of his and his wife’s journey in planting a church in King’s Cross in London. It can be difficult to discern what God is doing in the details of life, but reflecting back enabled them to join the dots, see what God has done and discern the direction of their future. They had to learn to let God do things his way. They experienced his miraculous provision. They have known breakthrough and breakdown moments. And what they have experienced together has formed deep bonds as a community. Shared stories enable this.
Reflect and Discuss
- Which of the four main promises – for a husband, king, shepherd or father – speaks most to you?
- Why do you think hope is so important?
- What dots can you join as you reflect back on your own journey and the journey of the community you belong to? What do you learn from this?
- Reflect on your journey with God over recent years and spend time thanking him for his faithfulness
- If there is part of you that feels in exile at the moment, in a strange land, ask God to encourage you with his promises
- Take the time to speak to someone with whom you have journeyed with over many years and share memories of the stories of God’s faithfulness. Share your hopes about the future.
Read Chapters 9 and 10 this week, when we get into Part 3, and the New Testament, focusing on Jesus.
There is also a PDF copy of this here.