As Biblical Christians, there are times when all of us feel like we are living as exiles in this great nation. It’s like living in a rental vs. owning our own homes…. It’s like camping in a tent vs. being at home, safe and protected (Psalm 15:1). We are exiles and strangers in this world, and this world is a stranger to us. We are wanderers, sojourners, soldiers, travelers, just passing through (1 Peter 2:11, Hebrews 11:13). Our citizenship is in Heaven.
Daniel was an example of a “successful” exile for most of his life (70 years). He conformed to society and even succeeded in it, but he was never “one of them”. He resolved not to do some things (like eating their food) and then to do other things (praying to his God)regardless of the consequences. This took a lot of faith. He never got involved in political matters and was often absent altogether. He was always kind, but yet truthful, and gracious.
Jesus As An Exile
Of course, Daniel was just one of many examples of exiles in the Bible. Jesus was the perfect example of an exile. He, like Biblical Christians throughout history, cannot have dual citizenship. Jesus, and all those born-again, are citizens of Heaven (Psalm 3:20, Ephesians 2:6, 19). Christ is currently in the presence of God (John 15:5), as we will be one day. He is beholding God’s face (Psalm 11:7), as we will one day when we are welcomed into God’s tent (Psalm 15:1). Jesus is truly in exile from this world, separate, having no partnership with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17, Psalm 1:1), but loving them deeply, none-the-less (Romans 5:8, John 3:16).
Top Seven Characteristics Of An Exile
- An exile is chosen, sanctified, and holy (1Pe 1:1; 2:9, 11). They are jars of clay. They are set apart and separate (2Co 6:14, 17; Ps 1:1). Their citizenship is in Heaven (Php 3:20; Eph 2:6). Jesus is our exile example (Mt 10:25; Isa 53). A believer is chosen, sanctified, and holy (1Pe 1:1; 2:9, 11). For example, Daniel was different than everyone else in Babylon.
- An exile is a soldier on a mission. He (she) must not get involved in civilian pursuits (2Ti 2:4). He is an ambassador (2Co 5), one of the sent-out ones (Mt 10:5). Being preoccupied with politics that do not impact his mission, is not the role of an exile (Ps 131:1). Even though Daniel was in a governmental position, he resisted politics.
- An exile does a lot of waiting, which requires endurance (1Pe 5:10; Ps 130:5-6), rarely needing to rush or be taken over by impatient expedience. Endurance also implies suffering (1 Peter). Finally, endurance is focused on the long haul (Heb 12:1-3). For Daniel, it was 70 years of exile before reuniting with his family.
- It takes a lot of faith to be an exile (Dan 1, 3, 6), faith in waiting for the promises, and looking ahead Heb 11:13-16, at times with fear 1Pe 1:17. It takes a lot of faith to be a Biblical Christian in this day and time. To maintain and strengthen our faith, both Daniel, and we today, need to pray. Daniel prayed:
- for understanding & protection (Dan 2:17-23).
- out of habit, being consistent, persistent (Dan 6:10)
- both to Confess and for God’s reputation (Dan 9:4-19)
- for God’s people and the spiritual battle that was before them (Dan 10:2-3, 12)
- An exile is a stranger in a strange place. Life is often awkward, even uncomfortable (1Pe 2:11-12). An exile is looking forward to home…a better place (1Pe 1:13; 4:13). Society is opposed to the exile (Isa 53:3, Mt 10:22, 25), threatening and challenging him constantly. Our citizenship is in Heaven (Php 3:20: Eph 2:6, 19). Even wandering in the desert (Heb 11:38; Mic 4:10), we, as believers, are looking forward to home…a better place (1Pe 1:13; 4:13). Society is becoming more and more opposed to us (Mt 10:22, 25). Daniel was different. In Christ, as a new creation (2Co 5:17), we are also different.
- An exile has no portion in this life…only in and through the Lord. They don’t own anything; they are lean (Mt 10:7-10). They are tenant farmers (1Pe 4:19; Ps 142:5; Hos 10:12). They cannot love this life (1Jn 2:15-16) or even their own life (Rev 12:11). Daniel didn’t care about the purple robe or all the riches available to him (Dan 5:17). Likewise, our treasures and not of this world. Our treasures are our hearts, lie on the other side of the grave (Mat 6:21).
- Finally, an exile is never in control nor can they be controlling. They do not set the agenda (Jas 4:13-16). They are a responder. An exile accepts the fact that they don’t have it all figured out. They are often reactive to the world around them, rather than pro-active. Often, they do not get closure in this world (Dan 2, 5). Daniel never set the agenda and never saw the fruition of all those prophecies from Daniel 7 through Daniel 12.
So, if this is the life of an exile, how can it be joyful? Our joy comes from the expectation of eternity in Heaven. If our joy is on the other side of the grave, are we to just wait around for the end to come? No! We are called to a mission on this earth! We are ambassadors of Christ (2Cor 5:20), bought at a price (1Cor 6:20). In exile and being ambassadors, can we be loving and kindhearted? Yes, that is what God calls us to be, to the lost and the saved (1Cor 13).
Why do we resist living as an exile? It’s because we all desire to have dual-citizenship. We live in a divided nation, getting more divisive every day. It has become way beyond liberals and conservatives, democrats or republicans. We are now living in an environment of tribalism. In part, because of the increasing availability of multiple news options (cable, internet, social media, etc.) each of us can choose to listen to a very narrow spectrum that confirms our own beliefs. To maintain viewers, news sources pander to their listeners, offering fake news to maintain viewership. This fracturing is not limited to any one group and Christians can be the worst offenders.
Barna, in their book, Faith Leadership in a Divided Culture, states that, “Americans are increasingly likely to want to preserve their own interests and rights. This splintering and polarization of American culture has made it more difficult than ever to reach across cultural divides…. Evangelicals seem to have a particularly difficult time talking to those outside their group… Tribalism impairs the connections necessary to a healthy society on even the most basic levels.
When Will Tribalism End
When will all the fake news go away? When will we all come together in love and respect for each other? I don’t believe it will come before the end of the age.
Revelation 21:22-27 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Revelation 22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
In Heaven there will be no distinction between the sun and the moon, between day and night. No distinction between nations, neither Jews nor Gentiles. No animosity between males, females, blacks or whites, children or adults, liberals or conservatives. No barrier at the city gate, no tribes, just one citizenship. The bride (the church) will be with our Husband (God). We will behold God’s face (Rev. 22:4, Ps 11:7, Mt 5:8).
As this world continues to grow cold (Mt 24:12), we, as Biblical Christians, must break out of the mold of tribalism. We must be different. We must express a love for the lost.
Matthew 22:37- 40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”