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Sin can have a devastating effect on a family, an individual, a church, and there is often this idea that once sin has devastated a home or a person, their life, and the lives affected are not able to be used for God. They would say things like, “Things can never be the way they once were.”, and to be honest it’s very often a true statement. A home that is broken by sin will never be the home it was; a life that bears the scars of consequences will never be without the scars; a church that has endured the pain of betrayal cannot exist as if those things did not happen. It is, however, a misrepresentation of God’s word to believe that God is finished working in your life just because your sin or someone else’s sin has taken away something that is precious in your life. To be honest all of us are broken in some way or another. Some of us have endured the consequences of our own sin or someone else’s sin that has been public and humiliating. Others of us have to live with the internal knowledge of the sin that nobody knows about, but still has damaged or hindered our day-to-day fellowship with God. Certainly, the Bible is clear in the reality that God is able to forgive and cleanse sins. Unfortunately, however, the consequences or the ramifications of sin do not necessarily end with the cleansing. The husband that has devastated a home with sin and left and has caused great damage to a wife and children – that home may find cleansing; that wife may be able to find peace with God – but things will not be the same. That which God had put together is now torn asunder. So the question arises how can I have a fulfilling relationship with God when my life is broken and devastated by sin. The reality is the life that I once had, I can no longer have. In the Old Testament the children of Israel had been warned by Jeremiah and other prophets of the coming captivity by the Babylonian Empire. They were told to reform their ways and repent of their sin and seek the face of God. Of course we know that they did not, and in Jeremiah chapter 36, Jeremiah told Jehoiakim that his sons would not sit upon the throne of David. Now we fast forward some 70 years and the children of Israel are returning from the captivity that was a result of theirs and their fathers’ sin. The man that is leading them is Zerubbabel, Jehoiakim’s great-grandson, and Ezra tells us that he is coming to fulfill the sayings of Jeremiah. So the man who should have been King – should’ve sat upon the throne of David to rule the nation of Judah – could not because of the sin of his forefathers. The life that he should’ve had – that he could’ve had – he could not have because of sin. So what do we do when the life we had or should’ve had is taken away from us because of sin? May I suggest we follow the example of Zerubbabel? The calling to serve God was his regardless of the circumstances, consequences or position. This man who should have been King, who should have been the ruler of the nation, was now simply an appointed governor, but his standing before God was not minimized because of his change in position. In fact, his standing before God was very personal because of his obedience. He is returning from a life of captivity, a devastated heritage, leading a nation that was having no success. But his standing before God was immediately changed when he responded in obedience, and now this man who should’ve been King is going to be doing something great for God. He will be in charge of orchestrating, with Joshua the high priest’s help, the building of the second Temple, which the Bible says in Ezra, and in Haggi, and in Zechariah, will be greater than the first Temple. If people were going to pick a Bible character to emulate they would often pick David, Samuel, Joseph, or Solomon. These men, no doubt, did great and wonderful things in obedience to God, but the man that I want to emulate is Zerubbabel, because I’ve been in captivity I know what is like to experience failure, devastation, and grief. I know what is like to have broken fellowship. I am so thankful however to know that God is always willing to respond to repentance and obedience and even if my life will never be what it once was He can always be to me my life, my inheritance, and my hope. Some might say you’re just trying to justify sin, and I would argue there’s nothing further from the truth. To justify sin is to stay in captivity or to rationalize that captivity is not as bad as we think it is. That is not what Zerubbabel did. He returned to a broken down city filled with rubble and ruin and said it is not the city it once was, but we will build again. So broken home, broken marriage, broken person, your life may be in ruin, and you may have lost much. Return, and let God build a heart in you for His glory. For there is one thing you can never lose or be separated from – His Love.

Richard Rossiter

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