Poet Robert Frost wrote, “Home is the place, where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” There is something about home, either our birth home or native country–that gives us a sense of identity, a place of belonging. When we are absent, something within still clings to the place we call home. Ancient Israel had been absent from their home for 70 years. Upon their return, and after years of agonizing work, persistence, urging by two prophets, and help of foreign governments, they had finally rebuilt their Temple. This gave them not only a place to worship God, but also a sense of home, of national identity. Though they were fewer in number than they once were, they celebrated Passover with joy. The original Passover took place when God set them free from Egyptian slavery. Now 900 years later, after God freed them from Babylonian captivity, they gathered to express gratitude to God. They knew they were free only because of God’s grace. Their 70-year exile took place because they violated God’s covenant. Now God and only God had set them free. Today, whether we are American Africans, set free from chattel slavery; immigrants, set free from political tyranny; or believers in Christ, set free from the bondage of sin by His death on the cross, we owe our freedom to God alone. We should express our gratitude constantly by the way we live and serve our God.
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