When the first man, Adam sinned,
‘God banished him from the Garden of Eden’ (Genesis 3:23).
Even while in exile because of sin, Adam was still to
‘work the ground from which he had been taken from’ (v23),
he still multiplied to fill the earth so that his wife Eve said,
‘With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man’ (4:v1).
When their son Cain sinned by killing his brother, God banished him from his presence saying,
‘You will be a restless wanderer on earth’ (v12).
Cain responds to God,
‘My punishment is more than I can bear . . . I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on earth, and whoever finds me will kill me’ (v13,14).
Cain thought his life was over just because he was exiled, but God responds,
‘Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over’ (v15).
Cain proceeded to building a family and a city (v17) even while exiled.
In some way or the other, all of humanity is exiled because of the sin of our first father, Adam. We are exiled on earth temporarily, though it seems like a long time. Like the Israelites who were in exile for 70 years, it is no surprise that
‘The length of our days is 70 years- or 80 if we have the strength’ (Psalm 90:10).
Like to the Israelites, God says of our exile,
‘It will be a long time. Therefore build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce’ (Jeremiah 29:28).
Exile is the in-betweens. When life is in transition. When you have come from a good place, are in a bad place, and are waiting to reach an even better place. Exile is a place of both certainty and uncertainty. Certain that the future will be better because of hope, and uncertain because you do not know exactly how long the exile will last. So you wait anyway, because
‘anyone who is among the living has hope- even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!’ (Ecclesiastes 9:4).
While in the waiting, many remain stagnant and only wait for the blessed future- like Israel of old who were exiled for 70 years in Babylon. While in exile, their hope was God’s promise that,
‘I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:10-11).
In exile, this promise seems far-reaching, but God commands beforehand for the exiles to;
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters.
Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper’
Taken and rearranged from: While in Exile, Prosper! by