Migration - 23 October 2018

Xanthe Hancox

Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord. Jeremiah 8:7

I like to think that if the prophet Jeremiah had lived in sub-Saharan Africa, he would have written about the 10 million fruit bats that descend in Zambia from the Congo around this time every year. But Jeremiah was a long way from Zambia, and without David Attenborough to tell about wildebeest and fruit bats, he took to observing God’s creation himself.

And he noticed, as he thought how Israel’s refusal to repent and turn back to God, that even storks and doves know when it’s time to go home. Storks arrive in Palestine around the end of March, and after a six weeks' break depart for the north of Europe. For Jeremiah, the appearance of the turtle-dove would have been a sign the spring was on its way. Every year, without fail. The storks would arrive and leave, and the doves would turn up right on time. No one tells them to do it. No one gives them directions or leads the way. They simply know where they belong at any given time.

But the Israelites did not know. They had lost their natural relationship God and the closeness that comes with it. Instead they pursued the unnatural, chasing idolatry and losing any kind of intimacy they had with God.

So often we’re just like the Israelites and show less sense than a stork. We’ve been designed by a loving Creator, who has given us every reason to want to come home. In his presence there is hope, love, lasting protection, and fullness of joy. Away from him there is temporary pleasure, but eternal loss and despair. Why are we so determined to run to our own self-destruction?

Prayer: Father, forgive us for running away from you. Lead us back to you today. Amen

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