How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. –Psalm 137:4-6
Coming home. It’s one of the most powerful images in the Scriptures.
From the end of Genesis 3, when the first human beings were expelled from the Garden to the very end of Revelation, there is an unresolved tension. When are we going to come home? When are things going to return to the way God dreamed for them to be since the beginning?
Coming home. It’s the story of the Scriptures. It’s our story too, is it not?
This question of homecoming became expressed most deeply when the nation of Israel went into exile in Babylon in 587 B.C. Living far from the land they knew as home, a home that was destroyed and left barren, the Israelites began to ask profoundly penetrating questions. Why did this happen? Why are we here? Will we ever be able to go home?
Perhaps you’ve asked these same questions as well. Living away from home is painful. The memories of how things were, or should be, clash against the backdrop of how things are, creating a hunger and a yearning for home. This is what lies behind much of the Scriptures–a yearning to be home again.
Why did this happen? Why am I here? Will I ever be able to go home again?
The word “repent” in Hebrew is a fascinating word. It’s the word teshuva. Teshuva means much more than what we commonly see repentance as being: merely feeling sorry for what you’ve done. Rather, it carries with it the idea of “returning.” To repent, therefore, is to return, to come home again.
So when God calls His people to repent in the Scriptures, He is not merely telling them to feel sorry for what they have done in the past. He is not wagging His finger, scolding His children for where they have been and what they have been doing. No. God is inviting His people to come home again, to live as they were created to live, a life of harmony with God. Repent. Teshuva, Return. Please come home again.
Perhaps you know what this yearning to be home is like. Perhaps you feel like it is impossible to ever go home, like there’s simply too much that has gone on. Repent. Teshuva. Come home again. God is waiting. He’s been waiting all along… for you to come home.
1. When you hear the word “return,” what comes to mind?
2. What prevents you from “coming home”?
Luke 15:11-32; Revelation 21:1-5