When Israel [ was ] a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.
When Israel was banished from the land during the Babylonian Exile ( or destroyed if they refused ), this was viewed, no doubt, as an adverse judgement. Most Christians today, in fact see this period of Exile as the punishment of disobedient and rebellious old covenant Israel, and indeed it was a disciplinary action on the part of Yahweh. However, I believe that the primary purpose of Yahweh in the scattering of His people which is often missed or glossed over was the spread of the good news of His Covenant of peace!
Israel had been established as a nation of priests, a special people of God, by the receiving of the Law at Sinai, and by the sign of baptism as they entered the Wilderness ( the Red Sea, or Sea of Reeds ), then the Promised Land ( the Jordan River ). They were to serve as God's priests within the Land, to establish His religion, and then to spread that religion throughout the boundaries of the known world, to the four corners of the earth. Although they did, to some degree, practice this true religion in the Land; when they began to observe the pagan ( heathen ) nations around them, rather then affecting these other cultures with this true religion, or at least some semblance of it, they found themselves conforming to these foreign practices, and lost almost all semblance to the true religion which Yahweh had established!
There are several shining examples in the Scripture that we may note where men or women of God become glorious examples of the fulfillment of God's purpose in establishing Israel as His priest to the nations! Joseph ( Genesis 30-50 ), long before the Exodus, was a good example of how God spread His true religion to other nations and used these nations to protect and nurture His special people, Israel. Fast-forward many centuries, and during the the most notable Exile of the people of God, the Babylonian Captivity, to Daniel, who faithfully fulfilled his duty, along with three friends, in moving the king of Babylon towards an acknowledgement of the true religion and true God.
Through these men, and others like them, Yahweh's true religion began to gain a foothold throughout the entire world, and it continues even today, as Daniel prophesied ( Daniel 2:44b ), 'the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed'. This passage, though in context it refers to the establishment of this Kingdom by the first century A.D., it also prophesies a 'rolling stone' which brings into submission and under its dominion every 'kingdom' of man.
Even for those that did not shine as brightly in the 'heavens', though it was to many of them a dreary and dark time, this Exile served God's purpose in exposing these nations to His One true religion. Because of the shining example, to whatever extent, of His people in Exile, foreign kings were brought to their knees, whether figuratively or actually, whether willingly or not, in acknowledgment of the One true God!
In conclusion, then, we may note that this same principle holds true today, in our own lives. My dad, for example, has ministered to those who are in prison, to whatever extent, and in whatever form, for many years. I remember hearing him remark to someone ( in other words ) who had recently been incarcerated ( neverminding what had placed him there ) that God had placed a glorious opportunity before him. He was now able to witness to a whole new crowd of people that he likely never would have, had he not been imprisoned; a 'captive audience', so to speak!
As we go through struggles like these every day, and some more than others, we should look at 'scatterings' like this as opportunities to further the Gospel of Peace which our loving God and Father has entrusted to us and take them as just the next step in the Journey as we fulfill God's anointing!
Joyfully yet sadly,
Charles Haddon Shank