The Righteous Exiled

You know that lesson you’ve heard a thousand times about Israel’s apostasy? It’s true. I’m reading Old Testament history books right now and it sticks out like a sore, blood-stained thumb. Sin, consequences, repentance, favor. Sin, consequences, repentance, favor. Sin, consequences…. the whole history of God’s people is a broken record of broken laws.  

But here’s what has me wondering today: surely not everyone in Israel fell for it every time. We talk about Israel’s apostasy as if they were all guilty, but each time Israel fell to worshipping Baal or Molech, surely there were some righteous Hebrews who recognized the folly and refused to participate.  

I know two things about those people.  

  1. They were frustrated. How maddening it must have been to watch their countrymen stray! They must have done their best to protect their families and persuade their friends, but to no avail. They must have felt helpless. 
  2. They didn’t get a pass. Even though not all of Israel sinned, all of Israel was punished. They all went to exile. They all served foreign kings. Apparently, in God’s estimation, the shared identity of the community trumped the personal piety of any individual. 

It’s no secret that the laws and customs of America don’t reflect Biblical morality like they used to. And that can be frustrating for Jesus followers. But if we think we’ll escape the consequences by separating from our nation like a tattle-tell toddler pointing to her cookie-stealing sibling, we may want to rethink. We all have chocolate on our faces.