Read Isaiah 12:2–6; 52:7–10 and Zephaniah 3:14–20.
When you hear home, what comes to mind? For some, the word triggers trauma. Others feel ambivalent toward their notions and memories of home. Some are itching to get away from home. Others never felt at home. And, of course, there are many who are deeply fond of home, who cannot wait to get home. Many who’d even consider themselves “homebodies.”
It is part of the human condition to long for home—for a place where we belong. A place where we can be ourselves, where we are known and loved, and where we feel, well, at home. Home is to be a place of peace, where we are at ease instead of on guard. Home is safe. Ultimately, in some sense, all of us long to be homebodies—to be strangers to alienation.
In Zephaniah 3:20, the Lord says, “At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.” God promises to one day bring home his people all throughout the world. It is a home of feasting and singing because of all God has accomplished through his salvation (Isa. 52:9, 10). It is a home of regular, free-for-all, spur-of-the-moment flash mobs of celebration. It is a party for the ages because what is too good to be true is true (Zeph. 3:14–15). It is full of glee and praise. It is a place of refuge, where God is our “strength and defense” (Isa. 12:2). In this home, it is a level playing field where the lowly, the oppressed, and the exiles return to the place they feel most themselves (Zeph. 3:19–20). In each of these passages, God was speaking to a particular people in a particular time and place. But these prophecies also expand beyond their immediate context, for coming home is part and parcel of salvation itself.
Jesus echoes these sentiments about home when he proclaims, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). And earlier, in John 14:3, Jesus tells us that he is preparing a place, a home, just for us.
We are a home to God, at home in God, and God is preparing a home for us. But not just in the bye and bye; here and now we can find a semblance of home and be God’s home to others. We can “bring good news” and invite others to join us (Isa. 52:7). Who wouldn’t want to be in such a home?
Marlena Graves is a doctoral student and adjunct seminary professor. She is the author of several books, including The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself.
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