This is our fifth episode in our series on Exile. In this episode Tim and Jon discuss the theme of Exile in the story of Jesus and the New Testament.
In part 1(0-10:23), Tim outlines the historical context of Jesus’ life. Israel was occupied by Rome. Rome was an oppressive military ruler who disenfranchised the Jewish people. Many Jews were waiting for a Messiah to come overthrow the Romans and restore the kingdom of Israel. When Jesus began performing miracles and declaring a new kingdom, “the kingdom of god” he quickly made a name for himself. But was he the ruler the Jews were hoping for? In Matthew 22, the Jews want to test Jesus and find out if he wanted to overthrow the Romans and ask him if its lawful to pay taxes to Rome. Jesus replies with his famous saying “Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Give to God that which is God’s.”
Tim says Jesus is the ultimate expression of the “wisdom warrior” that is outlined in the Old Testament books and characters like Daniel and Jeremiah. It seems the way Christians are supposed to interact with their government is one modeled after Jesus and Daniel. Be subversively loyal to your rulers. Work for the peace of your “babylon” but realize there will be times when your allegiance to the kingdom of God is more important than allegiance to a country or people group.
In part 2 (10:23 - 28:21), Tim and Jon discuss 1 Peter 2. Christians are supposed to “submit themselves to worldly institutions… and act like they are free.” Tim and Jon briefly discuss the movie Hacksaw Ridge, a true story where a Christian joins the US Army in WWII as a medic and refuses to carry a gun because it goes against his beliefs.
Tim postulates that perhaps the reason “the exile ethic” in the Bible is overlooked is because many Christians in western countries have grown up with a government that has a layer of civic religion. This civic religion is usually based on Judeo-Christian teachings. But this civic religion is not a substitute for following Jesus. Tim says at the end of the day, God has chosen to redeem and form a international people, his new-covenant family, not the various kingdoms and empires that rise throughout history.
In part 3 (28:21 - 34:06), Jon asks about how New Testament writers used the Garden of Eden analogy. Tim says there’s no indication the writers believed humanity would return to the “original garden.” Tim cites Romans 4:13 “Abraham will become an inheritor of the world.” Tim says this means the original promised land of Abraham was an image of what God wants to do for the whole world. Tim and Jon discuss the difficulties of thinking in this way. Modern Christians living today are actually exiles in time, not necessarily exiles in location.
In part 4 (34:06 - end), Jon and Tim discuss Hebrews 11 and the image of the “new Jerusalem” in Revelation. Tim says the new Jerusalem is supposed to be the anti babylon image. It is a picture of humanity’s civilizations working together as was originally intended. Humanity will finally no longer be in exile, but will have truly returned home.
Thank you to all our supporters!
Have a question about the theme of “Exile in the Bible”? Record yourself, keep it less that 20 seconds with your name and where you currently live (in exile :) ) and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be collecting the questions for our upcoming Q+R podcast!
Link to Exile video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSua9_WhQFE
Defender Instrumental by Rosasharn Music; Fills The Sky by Josh White; I’ve Been Surprised by Josh White; Only Your Presence by Pilgrim
Show Produced By:
Dan Gummel. Jon Collins. Matthew Halbert-Howen.
Podcast Date: Feb 26, 2018
Speakers in the audio file:
Jon: Hey, this is Jon at The Bible Project. We're in the last two hours of our conversation
on the theme of exile in the Bible. We spent a majority of this conversation so far
showing how the Israelites became exiles when they were forced by the Babylonians
to leave their land. They were transplanted and had to live in Babylon.
In Babylon, as exiles, they began to see the story of all humanity as that of exiles
banished from the good world that God designed for us. When the Israelites get to
go back home, they find that home is not what it should be yet. Not what God had
So they continue to keep the identity of an exile even though they're living in their
own land. They've turned the idea of an exile into an existential identity that you can
embrace no matter where you live. This is my home, but there are powers that keep
it from being truly home. We've talked about what it means to live a life as an exile,
and we found that the biblical mandate is surprising.
Tim: We're going to be loyal to Babylon, seek it's shalom, pray for it, contribute to its
well-being, but there are moments where identity as God's covenant people comes
into conflict with loyalty to Babylon.
Jon: This type of loyal subversion is tricky and it takes a lot of wisdom. This week we get
Tim: Jesus advocates the same kind of loyal subversion that you find in Jeremiah and
Daniel, first of all, dropping any violent aggression and extravagant generosity and
love and seeking the well-being of the people you like and people you don't like.
Jon: At the time of Jesus, the Jewish people are not under the occupation of Babylon
anymore. Rather, they're under the oppression and occupation of the Roman
Empire. Now, the Roman Empire has Caesar who sees himself as God, and your
loyalty living in the Roman Empire has to be to Caesar alone.
Think about this. People are talking about this guy, Jesus like he is the true king, not
Caesar. Now, surprisingly, Rome doesn't see Jesus as a threat because Jesus isn't
acting like any king they're familiar with. He has no army, no assassins, no palace.
But Jesus did see himself as a king bringing in a new kind of Kingdom, a new kind of
home, one with a whole new set of values.
Tim: And he becomes the Daniel wisdom warrior.
Jon: This is what we're going to look at today. How do we live in two kingdoms at one
time? What is the ethic of an exile? Thanks for joining us. Here we go.
Tim: Think of what Jesus is doing as he goes around Galilee, up in his own home region
first for a couple of years announcing that God's Kingdom has arrived here. There's a
guy named Herod, as a puppet governor over the region under a guy named Caesar
Augustus in Rome, and they use the king language to describe themselves. And
Jesus is going around saying—
Jon: "There's another kingdom coming."
Tim: "The divine kingdom is here." Jesus's movement emerges out of that return from
exile movement that the Baptists started down by the river - John the Baptist. Jesus's
movement is a part of John's, "let's return from exile back into the land" movement.
Jesus advocates the same kind of loyal subversion that you find in Jeremiah and
Daniel, first of all, dropping any violent aggression towards the Roman occupiers
and extravagant generosity and love and seeking the well-being of people you like,
and people you don't like.
But then there's that famous story where he goes to Jerusalem acting like a king,
and everybody expects him to throw down. Remember that story where he's tested
and they bring him the coin.
Jon: Who should we pay taxes to?
Tim: Yeah. and they say, "Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?" They're
trying to trap him? It actually says in the story, it says, "Jesus knew their evil intent."
The way they asked the question sets him up for failure because either, he's going to
be a compromiser, give loyalty of Caesar, or he's going or he's going to be seen as a
Jon: Don't give loyalty.
Tim: Don't give loyalty. What brilliance. Great story. Jesus says, "Show me the coin." They
brought him the coin. Then his question is, "Whose image?" He's very intentional.
"Whose image is it? And then who's inscription?" Certainly, they didn't see this
So whose image? Well, it's the image of Caesar. Then his response is dense. It's like a
riddle from Proverbs. "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give to God, what
belongs to God." Brilliant. Nobody knows what to say. It was like, "Okay. All right."
They're trying to paint him in the categories of either you're going to be fully
defined by Roman identity and give and pay the tax or full subversion. His way of
saying is "give to Caesar what is Caesar's." Well, what is Caesar's? What is Caesar's, is
whatever reflects the image of Caesar. I mean, he uses this word "image." So give to
Caesar what reflects the image of Caesar.
Jon: Was he also saying like, this whole economy, all these coins, it's all because of
Jon: So that's his deal?
Tim: It's his deal. That's right.
Tim: Give to Caesar—
Jon: So if he wants it, give it to him.
Tim: That's right. But then the opposite of that or the complementary of that is "and give
to God what is God's." Which then that's the riddle because then it forces you to say,
"Well, what is God's?
Jon: Yeah. What is God's image on?
Tim: That's right. What is God's image? That's exactly it. What is God's image? I mean,
they're all Jews. They all grew up on the Bible.
Jon: They've read Genesis 1 and 2.
Tim: So give the image of Caesar back to Caesar - this whole system and everything that
coin represents, which is propaganda. Coins were the mass media of the ancient
world and everything those symbols represent.
The inscription that he mentions would have been like Caesar Augustus, son of the
divine. That kind of thing. Give the piece of metal and the economic system it
represents but give to God, what is God's. Which is what? Your whole being. Your
whole being is an image of God.
So on a scale, which one of those is actually the more valuable thing or the more
radical call? Give your whole life and allegiance, is what you see Daniel doing. He'll
give to Caesar, "I'll dress like a Babylonian, I'll take a Babylonian name."
Jon: "I'll use your coin. I'll give you the tax you want."
Tim: That's right. But the moment that you think I'm going to define my identity and my
ultimate values by the Empire, I can't do that. That's God's because I'm an image of
Jon: So that's the ethic of—
Tim: That's the wisdom warrior. Jesus is carrying on the wisdom warrior ethic. So good.
That's exactly the paradox that you see running right up to the trial of Jesus. He's the
king he's accused of. Then Pilate's is like—
Jon: "Are you a king?" He's like, "Oh, yeah, sure."
Tim: Then Pilates is like, "Where is your assassins? Where's your...?
Jon: "Where's the real threat here?" He's like, "Well, I'm not like coming with swords."
Then Pilate's like, "Oh, this guy's innocent."
Tim: The paradox that Daniel presents to Babylon is what the paradox Jesus presents to
the Jerusalem authorities, which he, in not very subtle terms, was trying to say they
were the Babylon at the moment. When the high priest of Jerusalem tells Jesus, "Tell
us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God," and when Jesus answers - this is Matthew
26 - "from this moment on - he quotes from the book of Daniel - you'll see the Son
of man sitting at the right hand of the power and coming on the clouds of heaven."
He's quoting an image from the book of Daniel about how God's people are
trampled on by Babylon, the beast and yet God will vindicate His people, the
trampled people before the beast.
Jon: Which he calls the Son of Man in Daniel?
Tim: Yeah. Which is from Daniel Chapter 7. The point is that he uses an image from the
Old Testament; a persecuted person who embodies the people of Israel before
Babylon, and he puts himself in the place of Israel and he's painting the high priest
of Jerusalem as the beast of Babylon.
Right there Jesus is saying he's in Jerusalem, he's in the holy city, and he's painting
this picture where this is exile. This Jerusalem has become Babylon and he becomes
the Daniel wisdom warrior who will give up his life bearing witness to the kingdom
of God. If that means you want to kill me, go right ahead. That's fine. And that's what
he allows Babylon to do to him.
Once again, when you see Peter talking about Rome and talking to Christians living
in Asia Minor advocating the same type of ethic as Daniel and Jesus, this way of
living it seems like it's the ways that Christians are supposed to see themselves in
relationship to the cultures around them, which is always going to be this give and
take. It's the exilic peace ethic.
Tim: This is really cool set of themes that became so compelling to me number of years
ago. People don't talk about this, and people don't expect to hear this from the
Bible, I think. I don't know.
Jon: Well, the Jeremiah verses become very popular. But in context of this entire exilic
theme, not so much. There's one little wrinkle in my mind I'm trying to iron right
now which is, am I supposed to be thinking about myself in the promised land but
an exile in time, or outside the garden?
I've always really thought of myself as outside the garden. There was the garden, it's
gone. We don't know where it is, and if we found it, it's guarded by some crazy
cherubim. They're going to take me out. So the garden opportunity's over. But one
day, this will be transformed, it'll be reformed to the garden.
But it's actually a different kind of feeling or paradigm to think of myself as, "No,
we're actually in the land. We're in the garden. This is God's Earth. It's just not made
new and complete. And it's ruled by some other forces that I need to both be loyal
to and subversive to." This is weird to think about. But not to evil to the systems that
are kind of being manipulated by evil. There's a distinction there. Sorry, this is
another rabbit trail.
Jon: Because I'm not being loyal to evil, but Babylon, which is become complicit with evil,
I want to be loyal to Babylon. Until it's asking me to be loyal to evil itself I guess
would be the distinction. So loyal up to the point where now I'm becoming complicit
with the evil that empire has become complicit with.
Tim: That's exactly what 1 Peter advocates. This is in 1 Peter 2. He's saying what you're
saying. He says in 1 Perter 2:11, "Beloved ones, I urge you, as exiles and strangers,
abstain from fleshly lust, that wars against your soul. Keep your behavior excellent
among the Gentiles so that even though they might slander you - it's like, scoundrel.
You're not loyal to the empire and your weirdos - but because of your good deeds -
because you seek the shalom of our city, all they can do is observe that." And he
says, "Then they'll glorify God in the day of your visitation." The day you're
vindicated, they'll be like, "Oh, we were totally wrong about these people."
Then he says this, "Submit yourself for the Lord's sake to every human institution of
authority: whether it's a king, or others in authority, Governor's, sent for the
punishment of evildoers or the praise of those who do right. This is God's will, that
by doing right, you can silence the ignorance of foolish people. Act like you are
freed people." It's very important. "Act like you're freed. Act like you actually aren't a
member of the Roman Empire. But don't use your freedom as a covering for evil.
Use it as though you were God's slave or God's servant."
The image is actually; you are subservient to God. Therefore, you'll follow the speed
limit, and you'll pay your taxes, and you'll [unintelligible 00:14:37]. But even the
motive for my submission isn't because I think that my identity is defined by this
Jon: What was that movie that just came out that was up for Oscar for the guy who
joined the military? He wouldn't carry a gun.
Tim: He became a medic.
Jon: Yeah, he became a medic and he wouldn't carry a gun.
Tim: I feel like you told me about the story in a previous conversation that will be in a
Jon: Oh, did I?
Tim: Andrew Garfield, "Hacksaw Ridge" That's just such a gnarly name.
Tim: That's right.
Jon: He has this ethic of nonviolence because of his faith and also because of some
violence and his dad was abusive. But anyways, he has this ethic of nonviolence.
They definitely show his faith, but he won't carry a gun.
I guess I was just thinking like, "Okay, I can pay my taxes, and I can drive the speed
limit, but what if I get drafted into a war and I got to go kill people?" He's such a
cool like Daniel story in that way, right?
Tim: Sure, sure.
Jon: Because he's like, "Okay, I'll go." And they're like, "Well, you have to carry a gun."
"Well, I want to be a medic." "Well, no, you still have to carry a gun." "No, I'm not
going to shoot anyone." They're like, "We don't care. If you're not armed, you're just
a liability." "He's like, "Look, I'm not going to carry a gun." And it became this big
standoff and everyone started to hate him because he was like, "Are you really for us
if you won't carry a gun. Spoiler alert."
He, during the battle, ends up saving dozens and dozens of lives risking his own.
Then everyone's like, "Whoa, you are for us." And they're glorifying God because of
the good works that he did. It's such a cool story. It's also a very gory, bloody, war
movie. We did talk about this because it's like the first 10 minutes of saving
[unintelligible 00:16:41] for like two hours. It's gnarly.
Tim: Oh, I couldn't take it.
Jon: Not for two hours. It's for like 40 minutes. It's like 40 minutes of intense battle.
Tim: I can't do it. Movies like that just melt me.
Jon: There's something about it I guess you kind of acclimate to limbs flying off people
Tim: Oh, I'm just going to move on.
Jon: You're not going to dwell on that?
Tim: No, I'm not.
Jon: But you just spent 20 minutes talking about the valley of dry bones but you won't
talk about a battle scene?
Tim: It's a dream. A weird dream.
Jon: Zombie dream.
Tim: There you go. When you ask what it looks like, that's actually a provocative example
because there are many followers of Jesus, maybe even—
Jon: Who will fight for the country and tell people.
Tim: Totally. There's that. It's very complicated and I'm not trying to throw a blanket
statement over all of this. I'm just saying, a huge theme of the Bible that happens to
have been almost totally overlooked in western Christianity is this exile ethic of living
in Babylon with a mix of subversion and loyalty.
I have to wonder if why this is invisible to modern Western readers of the Bible is
because form of the nation states that many modern Western people inhabit has a
layer of civil religion over it that it has been Christianized. And so we don't see it as
Babylon. But there I would just go back to the story of Jesus and be like, Jesus was in
Jerusalem throwing around language implying that the high priest has become
Nebuchadnezzar. It's very bold on Jesus's part.
Jesus apparently wants his followers to have this eagle eye for knowing when the
kingdoms of this world have overstepped their boundaries and—
Jon: There was a phrase that one guy, Smith Christopher, something about doubt. Being
Tim: Here it is. "The nonviolent peace ethic is a practice of radical doubt towards the selfproclaimed
power and religion of the empire.
Jon: Which is not what I'm used to of people with this radical sense of doubt towards
their own. But that doesn't mean you're being—
Tim: Un-French, or un-American, or un-whatever.
Jon: Or constantly trying to undermine your country. Because that's not the story of
Daniel and that's the story of Jesus.
Tim: That's right. And Daniel wasn't trying to undermine Babylon. Rather, when Babylon
over asserted its own grander, its own story, its own authority, that's the point at
Jon: I think what I like about that phrase of the radical doubt is, your default mode
should be that if you're feeling comfortable, you should worry about that a little bit.
That should just set an alarm bell, like, "Why am I feeling comfortable with my own
identity as an American or as a Portlander?" That should trigger something of like,
you just start doubting that. But not fighting against or trying to undermine.
Tim: It's tricky. Sorry, we are talking about America a lot in this episode, but it's because
it's where we live. I thought about this a lot when I lived out of the country for a year
and studied in Jerusalem. I had traveled the country just once or twice before that,
but that was my first time, prolonged time. Even though there are lots of
internationals in Jerusalem, more often than any other time in my life, I was minority
in the grocery store or white, Scottish, Portlander, or whatever.
We traveled a lot in the West Bank, in Egypt, in Jordan and there were many
scenarios where we were in the minority. It was so good for me. This was 2006 so it's
the Bush era - pre-Obama. So many conversations people were talking about
America and want to know what I think.
So I became aware of my own identity, the layer of my identity as American. There
were some parts that I could begin to see from other people's points of view and
some of them were really ugly and some of them were really incredible. So I came
back with this strange mix of extreme gratitude and also doubt.
Jon: An extreme suspicion.
Tim: There's plenty of extremes on both of those ends. You now, like, so pro,
[unintelligible 00:21:32] country totally, and then so whatever the opposite of that. It
seems to me neither of those extremes captures the wisdom warrior ethic.
Jon: Well, the wisdom warrior recognizes the extremes and at one point can be incredibly
grateful for the transportation system in their city and how easy it is to get around.
Tim: Yeah, and what makes that possible. The whole infrastructure that makes that even a
Jon: And praise God for that and feel gratitude for that. Then the next moment, feel
anger and suspicion for what your city's doing for the least of these or something.
You can take both. Maybe you don't lose the extremes, you Bush-era know how to
deal with them.
Tim: Yeah, that's right. For me, it's complicated by even our tax system, where I'm like, "A
large amount of the income that I've earned as a Bible teacher pays my government
to do all kinds of things; some that gnarly on, and some that I'm so, so disturbed
by." And I've given pennies on the dollar, whatever, you know.
And this goes for the law of unintended consequences for whatever: whether it's
Adventures of our government representatives at home or abroad that have gone
horribly, horribly wrong. And that I helped finance by teaching the Bible. You know
what I mean?
Tim: So I think that's it. Like, Daniel, he's there. He's woven into Babylon.
Jon: Sure. As he's helping the Babylonian Empire, he's contributing to whatever next city
they're going to take over and the lives that that will destroy.
Tim: Think about that.
Jon: If he was going to take some really hard line, that wouldn't be acceptable.
Tim: I thought about this as a different kind of example. But I remember when I was
teaching through Matthew, we got to that story in Matthew where Judas, the money
that he got to betray Jesus, he doesn't want. He gives it back; they won't take it.
They won't take it officially, so what they do is buy a field with it that becomes a
To me, that became this fascinating example of how then for however many
generations, people bought plots on that piece of land and we're implicitly involved
in the betrayal of Jesus. To me, it is "Why do Matthew tell us the story?" It's almost
as if the system that betrayed Jesus actually didn't end. It continued on with people
completely unaware and innocent, but who are still in the quagmire of the system.
And the story of Daniel in Babylon became these stories to me that were so
thought-provoking or giving me these categories. We're all in Babylon. It's useless to
think that we can live completely outside of it. Even if I go off the grid in Montana,
I'm still in Montana.
Jon: Totally. You could stop paying taxes, even, but by buying groceries, you're
contributing to the system.
Tim: But I'm saying even if you go off the grid in Montana, you're still on a land that is
overseen and borders protected by the thing that you—
Tim: So there's no escaping it. And that's why I think the two extremes don't help us see
the nuance that the Bible...Once again—
Jon: So the extreme positions, I was trying to say, the extreme emotion can be there. You
can have the extreme emotion and you know what to do with it. You're always
taking a nuanced position. Even if the position is "Well, then go ahead and kill me,
whatever," I won't cross that line. It's still a nuanced position in that you're saying, "I
won't do anything you ask." You're just saying, "There's this one line. This thing, I
can't go that far. I'll still take your name and help with your business and your
Tim: All the Babylonian names, that's what your—
Jon: Babylonian names, yes.
Jon: To take care of American name. I'll take that American name,
Tim: Jon Smith.
Jon: I have a very American name. Actually, my name is Jonathan, so it's a Hebrew name.
Tim: Yeah, good point. The wisdom warrior ethic, it doesn't actually give you answers. It
gives you a story that at least will give you a framework to live within as you
encounter new and complex moral issues.
Jon: It's a more exciting story. It feels a bit of espionage, but in a very open-handed way.
It's not like a secretive way. It's not like, "Oh, if they find out I'm a spy, I'm screwed."
It's kind of like, "Hey, guys. I'm a spy. Let's get that out of the way. But I'm totally
here for you. This other kingdom that I'm working for, they're for you too. But just so
you know, I'm more loyal to them than I am to you."
Tim: "And there are some things I won't do."
Jon: "And there are some things I won't do. It's going to get weird every once in a while."
Tim: Totally. They'll be like, "Do I like this person or do I hate this person or both?"
Jon: Yeah, exactly.
Tim: That's exactly it. That's right. I mean, right through into the early Christian centuries,
you have women and children being thrown to lions in Roman gladiator games, and
their crime is "we think Jesus is more powerful than Caesar." I mean, that's the crime.
And so since like, "Well, I don't know the Germanic tribes that are trying to tear
down Rome, since that's their line too, we don't give loyalty to Caesar and we kill
them. So I guess that's what we have to do to these weird Christian."
Jon: I guess that still happens to religious minorities in certain parts of the world. And it's
not so much "my king is better than your king." It's more like, "my ideology is more
powerful than your ideology, so we're going to kill you."
Tim: Yes, that's right. I think religious or political ideologies aren't always married to
actual state structure. Sometimes they are, but sometimes they don't.
Jon: Then sometimes it's some parts of the world it could mean death. In other parts of
the world, it just means you're made fun of, you lose some freedom.
Jon: I want to get back to this whole are we in the garden thing.
Tim: Actually, that warrior could maybe help us land the plane by getting us to the book
of Revelation and so on.
Jon: Because I've always had this paradigm of I'm outside the garden and I'm waiting for
the garden to like re garden. But I like this paradigm of we are in the land - I'm not
in the Holy Land, I'm not in Jerusalem, I'm not in Israel - but I'm not called to be.
When Peter and Paul were out building churches, they weren't like, "Okay, now go to
Jerusalem." They were like, "Do it here." But he called them exiles. Is there any
evidence of them thinking, "This is the land, like here in whatever, Asia Minor and
Tim: This is somewhat controversial within some circles of mostly Protestant theology. But
where I'm at presently, is that the best case you can make from all over the New
Testament is actually following a trajectory within the Old Testament already,
namely, that the Garden of Eden is not - we talked about this already - the Garden of
Eden, I don't think is leading us to see it as a spot on a map. Rather, it's image of a
kind of world or a way that the world could be and was and ought to be - of the
That's why we started this with the cosmic mountain. That Eden is this image of the
ultimate cosmic temple merging heaven and earth out of which of that temple
presence flows the rivers that water all the earth and so on. Which is why Ezekiel,
when he sees the return from exile from Babylon, he sees it as a return to Eden, a
new creation of humans.
Then his second to last vision is of the New Jerusalem standing on a high mountain
with a huge city and temple with rivers flowing out of it. What he sees is the Garden
of Eden. Genesis 2. But this time it's Jerusalem. It's the God of Israel who's
remarrying heaven and earth starting right here.
So what you see is that all of that image of the promised land becomes itself is a
way of thinking about the whole world. And so to be exiled in Babylon is to be in the
world as it's not intended. To come back from exile in Babylon only to find out the
promised land is still Babylon-like.
Then, the early Christians, for them, it's very important that the Jesus movement
started out of that place, started out of Jerusalem. That's important in the book of
Acts. From Jerusalem goes out. But there's just no indication anywhere in the
apostle's writings in the New Testament of what we're hoping for is to get
everybody back to that place on the map or have an actual building in that place.
For them, the community of Jesus followers is the new temple prophesied about by
the prophets. And because Abraham was to become a father of many nations,
therefore, the multi-ethnic people of God is the family of Abraham. Therefore, like
Paul says in Romans 4, "God's promised Abraham was to inherit the whole world,"
Even Paul the Apostle apparently - this is in Romans 4:13, I think...I remember there
are funny details in the Bible that are weird. Yeah, Romans 4:13. "It wasn't through
the Torah that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would
become an inheritor of the world."
Jon: Which isn't what he said?
Tim: Yeah. You go read, Genesis. He was supposed to inherit the land. Paul's reading the
story of Abraham in light of the whole Old Testament story, which is about the
family of Abraham becomes a blessing to the nation's when the kingdom of God
reigns through the Messiah over all the nations, opening up the covenant family to
Which means that the promised land itself was just an image of what God wants to
do for all the world. It starts with a garden, a little spot that becomes an image of
the promised land. Bigger spot, actually on a map. And then through this the story
of the Old Testament, you find out that itself was just a microcosm image of what
God wants to do for all humanity.
I think the idea is that the whole world is the place that will become the new
creation. So it's not like we are out of Eden. We're in the place that ought to be Eden
and that will once again become a new kind of Eden. And that's what it means to be
exiles in time.
Jon: Yeah. If we're talking—
Tim: Thank you for that. I had never thought about that exiles in time but that is what the
word "exile" comes to mean is an exile in this age.
Jon: Yeah, an exile in this age.
Tim: As we are in the place that ought to be our home but isn't in the condition of what it
Jon: We should just create a new word.
Tim: Space wanderers.
Jon: Time wanderers.
Tim: Time exile.
Jon: Time immigrants.
Jon: This is where it's complicated. If the Garden of Eden is not specifically about a place
but about a quality, it's not a place on a map, it's much of it it's kind of existence,
which is complete, it is in cooperation with God, is where justice and peace rule—
Tim: God's will and human's will, totally—
Jon: It's a sense where, like, I'm at home, and I'm at Home, right?
Jon: Yeah, that's right.
Jon: Versus banishment then is, "Well, I'm at home but I'm no longer at Home." And then
exile is, "Well, I'm not Home anymore. I've been kicked out of my home and I'm not
But then you get this exile people who come back Home and they say, "Cool, we're
back Home," but it doesn't feel like Home yet so we're still exiles. We'll still take that
name of exile or that identity, which is now the identity you can then put on Adam
and Eve as soon as they're banished because they're exiles from the garden.
I guess what I'm trying to imagine is like, "I'm at home. I'm not in exile in that this is
where I'm from. I'm from this corner of the world, I'm from the northwest, I consider
this home, but I'm not at Home. I'm not trying to get back to Chicago or something.
Tim: We need to be able to write all those sentences with a lowercase h home and
uppercase H home.
Tim: Uppercase H Home would be like the redeemed new creation of which Eden is in
itself an image. Then lowercase home, which is whatever...Yeah.
Jon: I'm at lowercase home, but not uppercase Home.
Tim: I think this is what the author of the Hebrews is getting at in his description of
Abraham. This is his summary of the whole Abraham story.
In Hebrews 11, he says, "By faith, Abraham was called to go to a place he would later
receive as his inheritance. He obeyed and went even though he didn't know where
he was going. By faith, he made his home in the promised land, but like a stranger in
a foreign country. He lived in tents like Isaac and Jacob did, who were also heirs of
the same promise with him. He was looking forward to the city with foundations
whose architects and builder is God."
Jon: That could totally apply to—
Tim: Yeah. The author of Hebrews, he's tracking with all of this imagery in the Old
Testament here. Where he saying he takes all this exile and exile becomes an image,
and now, he's seeing the Abraham story.
Jon: I've made my home here even though...It feels like I'm a foreigner even though this
is my Home.
Tim: It's my Home.
Jon: But I'm waiting for a city that's going be built, not by humans but by God.
Tim: This is what the New Jerusalem means in the Bible is again it's not heaven. It's the
Jerusalem that ought to have been. If Eden is the image for the whole world as it
ought to be, then the New Jerusalem in both the Old Testament and the New
Testament becomes the world of human civilization as it ought to be. A civilization
where God's will is humanity's will.
That's why in the last pages of the Bible, it's the ultimate homecoming. The new
creation is a new garden city, A New Jerusalem Eden. Both images fully merged
together because now we're mapping the Israel story and the humanity story.
Genesis 3 to 11 right up onto each other. And it's this place become Home.
Jon: Because it's Home.
Tim: Because it's supposed to be our home.
Jon: It's not like I'm not going leave and be transported somewhere else. It's going to be
here, but it's truly going to be home.
Tim: In the meantime, I live in my lowercase home by the values of my uppercase Home,
even though that will bring this mix.
Jon: So while Daniels instructive as a story and a character living in Babylon, I'm not living
in Babylon in the sense that Daniel did, because I'm not living—
Tim: Oh, sure. That's right. But for the readers of this book, Daniel is being offered as a
paradigm to all the people who will read the book of Daniel. Most of them will not
be located in Babylon.
Tim: So I'm being invited to see the Daniel story in Babylon.
Jon: So is the Daniel story kind of saying, "Wink, wink, even though you're not in Babylon,
you are in Babylon?"
Tim: Yeah. If you've read the book of Isaiah, you know the whole world is Babylon or
Babylon is a way of thinking about the world of human civilization.
Jon: Thank you for listening to this episode of The Bible Project podcast. Today's show
was produced by Dan Gummel. We have one more episode in our conversation on
exile. We're going to land the plane. We're going to talk about Babylon in the book
of Revelation. Then after that, we're going to do an exile question and response
So if you have any questions that have arisen from all these conversations about
theme of exile, why don't you get ready to send that to us. You can record that
audio, try to keep it to about 20 seconds or less, tell us your name and where you're
from, and send in that audio questions to email@example.com
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