When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. – Ps. 126:1 KJV
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The sovereign Lord had handed over the Israelites to captivity in Babylon, probably because of their many sins from generation to generation (Jer. 20-22; 24-29; 32; 34-45) or as a fulfilment of his reaction to the action of King Hezekiah showing off his entire palace to the representatives of the King Berodach- Baladan of Babylon who came to rejoice with him on his recovery from sickness – 2Kg. 20:12-19. After this period of their history which is referred to as the Babylonian captivity, they were returned to Jerusalem, led by Ezra the Priest. The scripture today which is suspected to have been written by Ezra the Priest was an attempt to capture the mood of the returnees after a long spell under the distress of captivity.
That return was definitely what the survivors of that period of captivity never anticipated could happen. They may have been told severally of the promise of God in that His prophetic declaration that they will be in captivity for a period of seventy years (Dan. 9:1-2), but that period was long enough for anyone to believe that it was eternity and so it will never happen. Everyday spent in such conditions is like eternity, so one can imagine sleeping and waking up everyday over, at least one generation, to discover that one is waking up into the same very difficult situation. The day they slept and woke up, to realise that all the shackles of captivity were absent, the usual daily chores of an exile was no longer necessary and they had the freedom to do whatever they felt like doing as they were now, not just free citizens but also in their own land, the only feeling that would come to them like any other person is to pinch themselves in trying to assure themselves that they were not in a dream land.
This is another of several events in the scriptures that reveals the faithfulness of the Almighty God to his words. Whatever He has promised to do, He will surely do and He will not be restricted or judged by time.
Several Christians there are today who are going through some form of experience similar to that of someone who is not just a servant, but one in exile. The pain and distress has affected them psychologically and emotionally so much that they have come to see it as a situation that will be permanent in their lives. Yes, it is true that God is aware of it, probably it is even a reward for acts of disobedience to His laws, but at no time should the Christian forget the merciful nature of the Almighty God with regards to His people. The Christian should never lose hope in that situation as the Bible reminds us regularly that the He is steadfast in His love which never ceases and His faithfulness never runs to an end as they are renewed every morning – Lam. 3:22-24. No matter what you may be going through, do all you can to earn His promise of remaining steadfast to His love for you, by ensuring that you equally remain faithful and loyal to Him. The Israelites in captivity in Babylon, despite all they were going through remained faithful to the Lord. They never at any moment compromised their faith and their loyalty to their God remained unshaken even when they were aware that He it was that handed them over to captivity. They trusted Him that He will always have their back and in the end, both actions of theirs were rewarded. That they felt they were dreaming was an indication that they did not expect that level of reward, and a further indication of the unconditional nature of their loyalty. They would not have been that surprised if they were expecting that their loyalty will be rewarded in such a manner. Today’s scripture says, they thought they were dreaming but when they realised that it was no dream:
1. Their mouth was filled with laughter.
2. Their tongue loosened up in songs.
3. They confidently gave testimonies amongst the heathen that, the Lord hath done great things for them.
The result of this new life was gladness which replaced all their sadness. All the above is the plan of the Sovereign Lord for anyone who can remain loyal and honest to him even in the face of affliction and trials. It is not about what you are going through now but about his promise of deliverance for all those who persevere during the period of His rebuke. Yes, you transgressed His laws but He will not leave you in that situation as His rebuke remains a stronger indication of His love for you – Heb. 12:6. There is greater hope of restoration for you if only you can add to your remorse, loyalty to Him and honesty in your worship of Him. That is when His miraculous deliverance from that negative situation that has held you captive will come, restoration will follow, and your testimony will be like that of the returnees from Babylon. Your mouth will be filled with laughter, new songs of joy will come out from your mouth, and with gladness in your heart, you will be able to declare amongst the heathen that the Lord is Good at all times.
May God grant us all strength to remain loyal and honest to Him in our times of distress in Jesus name. Amen.