Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter;
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
And I say it’s all right.
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces;
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here.*
After seventy years living as refugees, our Old Testament exiles are finally returning home. Bruised, battered and defeated, they meander back to their native soil with lofty dreams of restoring their devastated fatherland.
It would never be the same. Gone were the days of King David’s military might and King Solomon’s majestic splendor. Slowly they hammered together a humble temple for worship and cobbled together city walls for protection. Their era of international renown was now a very distant and rather bittersweet memory.
It would never be the same. It would be better.
It’s true they would never again occupy a kingly palace or initiate far-reaching reforms. Yet their new generation of prophets envisioned a future without boundaries and an influence far beyond their own land and lifetimes. In the closing chapter of the Old Testament, their prophet Malachi offered this vision for their future:
“ . . . for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” Malachi 4:2
Sounds like spring was in the air as God’s family finally headed back home.
The nation took the first step of the journey home we continue today. Bruised, battered and defeated, we also return to God with lofty dreams of restoring our lives, families and communities. We’re often left with bittersweet memories of a life that didn’t turn out as expected.
It will never be the same. It will be better.
As the spring-like wind of God’s Spirit breezes into our lives, we discover that our joy, peace and love isn’t held hostage by current circumstances. We have a future without boundaries and an influence far beyond our own land and lifetimes. We are no longer ordinary citizens—we are now kings and princes in a kingdom without end.
As we celebrate the coming Easter season, I pray that the power and love of Christ will carry you forward with unimaginable hope and grace.
* “Here Comes the Sun” was written by George Harrison—the Beatle shadowed behind the star personas of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It’s a warm reminder that us less-known types can still offer enduring hope to many others.
This week’s Scripture readings: Each link offers the entire day’s readings, listed in succession via Bible Gateway—just keep scrolling down to read the next selection of verses.
- Captivity: Ezekiel 6:1-10; 37:1-14; Daniel 1. Divinely disciplined for their self-destructive behavior, God’s people must adapt to a new land and a new lifestyle. None of us like unwanted change—but learning to trust God in unfamiliar terrain is always the foundation for building a resilient faith.
- Return: Ezra 1, Daniel 9. After his people’s seventy years of exile, God is on the move again. He moves the heart of Cyrus—the commanding king of the free world. More importantly, he moves the hearts of his people towards repentance, humility, and greater hope for their future. When we stop trusting in our own ability and start believing in the goodness of God . . . amazing things begin to happen.
- Restoration: Ezra 3:8-13; Nehemiah 1:1-2:8; 8:1-3, 9-12; Zechariah 8. The rebuilding process for the nation, worship, temple and city would be a slow, often painstaking ordeal for God’s people. In our instant “microwave ready” society, we want God to make quick changes to our lives and future. Sorry—it almost never works that way. Following God requires on-going faith, determination, patience, and a spiritual vision beyond our own lifetime.
- The Scattered. Esther 3:8-11; 4:13-17; 7-8. Back in the colossal Persian Empire, a young Jewish girl astonishingly becomes queen of the land. That’s all fine and dandy until she’s required to put her own neck on the line when her people are threatened with genocide. What might be God’s astonishing call on your life for our world today?
- The Coming Kingdom. Ezekiel 34:11-31; Malachi 2:17-3:4, Zechariah 3. The Old Testament closes with both stern warnings and epic hope. It’s real easy for us humans to quickly forget the hard lessons of our past. And it’s also easy for us humans to get lost in our daily routine and forget the grander vision God has for our lives, churches and world.
Thanks for joining along in our journey through the Old Testament. I hope you’re enthused to continue on as we seek hope and inspiration from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in the weeks leading into Easter.