O. Palmer Robertson, in the fourteenth chapter of his book Christ of the Prophets, makes the point that the core theme of the Prophets of the Old Testament is the working of exile and restoration. Exile and restoration are never completely inseparable.
As we read the Old Testament Prophets, it is often hard to make specific applications to our lives. These prophets wrote to a community long ago, to a culture as foreign to ours as any can possibly be, separated by time and history. What we learn from the Old Testament Prophets is an understanding of how Yahweh thinks and acts, particularly how He acts through His covenant. If we read the prophets in the context of the entire Old Covenant, the concepts of exile and restoration are one particular aspect of the blessings and curses of His covenantal dealings with His people.
If we review the blessings and curses in Deuteronomy, we find that the blessings of the covenant are always given in conjunction with the curses of the covenant. Blessing and cursing virtually always work together. Genesis 1-3 provides a key understanding of how this works out in our labor. Labor or work is simultaneously a blessing and a curse. Ecclesiastes portrays this reality in poetic form.
In the Prophets, Yahweh, the covenant God, executes the blessings and curses in exile and restoration. In some cases, curses are the precursor to blessings. In some cases, the curses to one people are blessings to others. In all cases, curses bring about a radical reorientation in people, nations or the world that allow Yahweh to create something completely new.
The pinnacle of His working of His covenantal blessings and curses is the incarnation of His eternal Son in the person of the Lord Jesus. Jesus submitted to the covenantal curse of the cross and in doing so permitted His Father to create something new. The Father, through His Son, created a new reality, a God-man who was suitable to rule all of creation at the right hand of His Father. He is now seated there with all authority in heaven and earth.
This nation and the entire world have been going through a time of cursing. I am not going to speculate on the extent or length of this cursing. However, as we go through this Christmas season, let us remember that cursing is not without result. Cursing brings blessing in some shape or form, all under His care and supervision. The important thing to do is to remember that Yahweh is sovereign. While we work to change our nation for the better, remember not to give into despair. Be willing to submit to the workings of Yahweh. He is creating something new.