To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. – James 1:1b
Scripture reading: John 14:1-6
James wants us to see something about who we are. The word dispersion describes people living in places that are not their home. The Old Testament people of God were scattered throughout the world by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. For a long time, they lived outside the promised land and suffered trials. God allowed this to reshape His people so that in coming back to the promised land, they would hunger to live for the Lord in the joy of salvation. God promised His Old Testament dispersed people that there would be an end to their struggles and they would return to the promised land.
James, in calling the people he wrote to, the twelve tribes of the dispersion, is telling us that we, as the New Testament church, are like them. We are presently not living in our real home. God has promised that paradise awaits us. We are to live on this earth, not holding to the things of this world, but to the promise that awaits us.
This past year, a small virus has reminded us that we have no enduring reality here. It has dispersed us in many ways, in that we were not able to meet as we desired for worship, Bible studies and fellowship. The last word in this verse is translated greetings, but it could also be translated to say rejoice or be glad. God calls us, His dispersed people, to rejoice, for the paradise of heaven and the new earth awaits us. May you trust that today and always.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that we would see more clearly that our real home is not here, but in the paradise of heaven and the new earth.
Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah, and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.