God exiled the Jews to Babylon according to Scripture, although to the unbeliever it would appear to be just one more circumstance of a nation attacking another, a situation that has occurred many times throughout world history.
Therefore He (God) brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete. 2 Chronicles 36: 17 – 21
This exile was neither a random event nor a secular war; it was a spiritual event deriving from the covenant that God made with Israel through Moses. Hundreds of years before the exile, these words were recorded by Moses and known to the nation of Israel:
But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, I, in turn, will do this to you:…I will lay waste your cities as well and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your soothing aromas. I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it will be appalled over it. You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste. Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. Leviticus 26: 14 – 16, 31 – 34
So the exile was a covenant curse enacted by God after many, many years of Israel consistently disobeying God’s word and refusing to bow to Him alone. It was not as if God just chose to do this thing with no warning to the people. God, after withholding this curse for many years, and after putting up with the people and their sin, finally enacted the covenant curse, and it was just and right for Him to do so.
Now, concerning these things that happened to Israel thousands of years ago, they are a lesson to us. For the apostle Paul says that what was written in earlier times is for our benefit and instruction.
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15: 4
How does the exile of the Jews instruct us, and how might it give us hope?
We learn from the exile that God is a covenant keeper. He enacts both the blessings and curses of the covenant in accordance with the stipulations of the agreement. This is both a good and a bad thing. It is good when you receive the blessing, but bad when you receive the curse. But whether blessing or curse, we can be confident that God honors His covenants and is not capricious; He does not give a curse when He promises to give a blessing.
You and I, and the whole world, are in a covenant with God. It behooves us to believe that it is His will to keep His promises. The covenant God made with us is different from the one He made with Israel. The terms of this covenant contain one fundamental blessing and one fundamental curse.
The blessing is complete forgiveness of sins to those who believe in Jesus Christ, resulting in eternal life with Him.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3: 16
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8: 1
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” – that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10: 8 – 13
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1: 8 – 9
The curse is receiving the just penalty for our sins: eternal damnation, separation from God, everlasting torment.
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
John 3: 18 – 19
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5: 1 – 3
See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. Hebrews 12: 25
But by His word the present heavens are earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3: 7
Just as the Jews were exiled for disobedience in accordance with the old covenant, people will receive eternal exile in accordance with the new covenant, if they do not believe in Jesus Christ.
But if you believe in Jesus the Messiah, you are saved from God’s wrath and will not be eternally exiled. You will be a part of God’s family forevermore, dwelling with Him in pure joy and jubilation.
No matter how awful your sins have been, no matter how unworthy you feel to receive God’s blessing, His promise of salvation is independent of your own work and worthiness. God has made an oath to save all those who call upon His name and the name of His Son.
This is God’s promise to you and to me and to the whole world. And He always keeps His word. The Scripture proves it.