Restore our captivity... to You
Psalm 126 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
We are glad.
4 Restore our captivity, O Lord,
As the streams in the South.
5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Throughout the early history of the nation of Israel there are numerous times that they, as a nation were taken captive by other nations. In some of those times they were removed to a foreign land and during other times they were ruled by others in their own land. The freedom and the captivity of the nation was often determined by Israel’s faithfulness. Or lack of it, in following the Lord. It was in such a time of captivity and rule by an outside force, this time the mighty Roman Empire, that Jesus, the Messiah came to lead the people from captivity. Isaiah had prophesied concerning His coming: For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.(Isaiah 9:6-7) Because of their circumstance, and because of their history, many of the Jewish people missed the coming of their Messiah. They were expecting and looking for a political leader, one who would free them from the bondage of the oppressive Roman rule. Jesus came instead, to free them from the eternal bondage of sin and death.
Jesus was born, the angels announced His birth saying: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to
God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:10-14) When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He began saying: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) Jesus message from the beginning of His ministry was: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)
Just as the freedom and captivity of the nation of Israel was related to the obedience of the people in following God, so too is the freedom Jesus came to give to the captives, those oppressed in the bondage of sin. Jesus says we need to repent. Repentance is changing the way we think and act. Repentance is a turning away from sin and disobedience and turning or returning to God. But, it is also a change in the way we think, a turning from prioritizing our physical circumstances to prioritizing our spiritual circumstances. In the same way that many of the Jewish people missed the coming of the Messiah because He did not come in the way they expected and hoped, many today miss the freedom of Jesus, because they seek only to be freed in physical circumstances.
The prophet Isaiah said: Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end. When we seek to be delivered, freed from physical bondage, whether political, financial, matters of health or any other thing which afflicts us in this life, those things are temporary. At best they last only as long as our physical bodies and at worst, we like the Israelites continue a cycle of freedom and bondage because we have not changed, repented, begun to think and act differently. The prophet says there will be “no end” to the peace of the government of Christ. The kingdom of heaven is a spiritual kingdom. We must change the way we think, concerning ourselves with spiritual things more than physical things. John 3:16 says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The freedom of Christ, is everlasting, eternal, it does not end when our physical bodies die.
Jesus did of course also come to set us free from the things which bind and afflict us in this life. He did open blind eyes, cause deaf to hear and those who were crippled to walk. He even raised some from physical death back to life. Jesus says: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Jesus has all authority, both in this physical realm and in the heavenly kingdom. He and the Father know and care about all that we need, but Jesus says: “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
In today’s text the psalmist says: When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion...Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting…“The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; We are glad…
May the declaration of the psalmist be our prayer: Restore our captivity, O Lord, As the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Thank You heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ for restoring and redeeming me from the bondage of sin and death. I am glad. My desire is first for Your kingdom and Your righteousness, that first I would be part of the eternal kingdom of heaven, then through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, I would live as one who possesses all the promises and realities of heaven, here on earth. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen