Judy Garland’s Dorothy clicks her ruby-slippers together and cries, “There’s no place like home.” Politicians stump for a bill or seek applause by shouting, “Home ownership is the American dream.” Yet as the old adage goes, “Home is where the heart is.” If I were to ask you, “Where is home for you?” you might give your current address, or the place you grew up, or where your kids grew up, or where your mom and dad live now, or your favorite among all the places you live. Homeland is more complicated than we thought.
What makes a place home for you? The next nine books of the Bible chronicle Israel’s quest for a Homeland.
We pick up the action in Joshua with the twelve tribes of Israel arrayed on the east bank of the Jordan River, and we harken back to God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah of a new life and blessing in a new land; and to a voice telling Moses at the burning bush of “a land flowing with milk and honey.” For four hundred fifty years Israel has awaited this moment. Judges follows Israel through the first generations in the land, as they wander between the leadership of Moses and the kingship of Saul and David. Ruth rivets our focus on one family’s beautiful story – a family that takes God’s blessing to a foreigner. Then 1—2 Samuel, 1—2 Kings, and 1—2 Chronicles tell and retell the story of Israel’s 400-year monarchy in the land, and the period ends with the people hoping to find a home in the foreign land of Babylon. (Hint: it has a lot to do with the presence of God.)
Homeland is more complicated than we thought. Let’s follow Israel’s quest together. Who knows, God may just give us new insights in our own quest to be Home.