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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: Reconciliation
 

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  May 6, 2019 --

Comfort, comfort my people,

says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and proclaim to her

that her hard service has been

completed,

that her sin has been paid for,

that she has received from

the Lord’s hand double

for all her sins.

Isaiah 40

These words are spoken by God through the prophet to the Israelites who have been exiled in Babylon and are now prepared to return home to Israel. They are words of reconciliation, Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem around 597 BC and carried away captive to Babylon all the leaders and important families among the Israelites. Sixty years later the Persians conquered Babylon and the Persian rulers allowed the Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem. According to the prophets God had used Babylon as his agent of judgment against Israel because of their sins. And now the prophet announces that their sins have been “paid for”, and God wants to reconcile the people to him.

The theme of reconciliation occurs many times in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. In Hebrew the word used is “Kaphar” [pronounced with a long “a” so that one would say “Kah-phar’] The word “Kippur”, as in “Yom Kippur”, the day of atonement is closely related to it. In fact, in some contexts the two words are interchangeable. Think of it as “at one ment”, It is an elimination of any barriers that might have existed between any two persons or between a person and God, by one party asking forgiveness for wrongs, and the other party granting forgiveness and, in essence, “wiping the slate clean”.

Perhaps the most well-known example of reconciliation in the Bible is found in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, found in the 15th chapter of Luke. The younger son takes his inheritance, travels to a distant land, falls into evil ways, and squanders his inheritance. Realizing that he has run out of luck he returns home, planning to grovel before his father, claim repentance, and ask for forgiveness. But before he has gotten near enough to put his plan into action his father sees him from afar, runs and puts his arms around him, and welcomes him home. Reconciliation comes even before a chance to voice repentance. The message for us is that our Father in Heaven is always waiting to reconcile us to him as soon as we present an opportunity.

 

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
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