Last week, we heard the Lord tell us to be happy where he has put us. This week, we are told to trust in God. The Jewish people are told that God will give them freedom and return them to the land of Israel. Even though no-one cares for Israel, God will save them, although he will not allow them to go unpunished. But the time will come again when the people of Israel learn that God will be their God and that they will be his people.
Suffering, isolation, exile, are all strong force which can build or break a people. Just as God spent 40 years in the desert teaching the sons of Israel to remove Egypt from their midst, so did he have them in captivity for 70 years to truly turn them to a true people of God. It appears that during the Babylonian captivity, the Jews became truly God's people. They learned in captivity to take the Sabbath seriously and learned to keep the festivals in spirit and truth, and learned that God was truly with them, and wanted to be their God and protect them.
Likewise, as we look at Jakob, he has spent years being tricked by his cousin, and learning to totally trust in God. It is a lesson which is difficult for us to learn, which is one of the reasons we keep Lent. During this time we read God's word, hopefully go to church a little more, and allow God to speak to us through his word and to transform us into the image of his Son. After all, it is better to practice self-discipline that to have the Lord teach us through discipline and correction.
I note sadly in passing, that in the world I hear people say many sad things. No church is necessary to be a Christian, baptism is not necessary, moral laws don't apply to us. Saddest of all, the belief that we are all going to heaven. If we the Church do not convey the truth to those around us, then God's judgment will come upon us, just as it came upon Israel. We are called to sound the trumpet. We are the ones who are here.