Refugees are in the news. I’m sure they wish they weren’t. Around 35 million refugees exist today. That’s the equivalent of the combined populations of Ireland, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Lebanon, Palestine and Liberia. Sadly, refugees are not a modern issue. What relevance does this have for our relationship with God?

Israel was a refugee from the promised land
In fact, the status of Israel as a refugee goes back all the way to Abraham. He was driven to Egypt by famine. It was move — or die.

“Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.” (Genesis 12:10 NIV11)

The situation is repeated for his grandson Jacob (Israel).

“We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”” (Genesis 47:3-4 NIV11)

Israel — as Abraham’s grandson and as the people of God — were shaped by movement, displacement and longing. Would they ever find a home? The promise of a land was made to Abraham and specifically reiterated to Jacob,

“The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”” (Genesis 35:12 NIV11)

Yet they were denied settled, ongoing residence for hundreds of years. This was a people characterised by longing.

We are refugees who long for a land
We live in the already-but-not-yet land. We already have a taste of the eternal, but not yet the full meal. Perhaps thinking of ourselves as refugees rather than owners is a better place to be spiritually. A settled people are more likely to be a complacent people, a materialistic people, a distracted people. Refugees know they are not yet home, do not worry about permanence, and accept the temporary. Not to say this is easy. It is not.

“Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,” (2 Corinthians 5:2 NIV11)

“Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:16 NIV11)

Why not spend some time contemplating what advantages your refugee status brings you?

Next time we will go on to talk about what can strengthen us in our flight from danger.

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm