God often tells His people to leave the place they are living. Now, I hope to live in Wrightwood the rest of my life. But the command is not only to leave physical places – it is to leave old ways. Remember two things: 1) that we are pilgrims in this land, and 2) God never leaves us.
Command to Physically Leave
(Gen 12:1) The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
(Gen. 31:13) [God said to Jacob] “I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.'”
(Ex. 33:1) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’
(Jer. 10:17) [To Judea about Babylon] Gather up your belongings to leave the land, you who live under siege.
(Is. 48:20) [To exiled Jews in Babylon] Leave Babylon, flee from the Babylonians! Announce this with shouts of joy and proclaim it. Send it out to the ends of the earth; say, “The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob.”
God Will Not Leave
(Deut. 31:8) [Moses to Joshua] “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
(Josh. 1:5) [God to Joshua after Moses’ death] “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
(John 14:18) “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
(John 14:27) “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
What Is God Saying to Us?
What are the things that God might tell us to leave behind? (Places, sins, attitudes, jobs, volunteer work, relationships, etc.)
Leaving because of someone else’s sin and mistakes
If you are being opposed in your witness, you may need to stay like Jesus stayed for His Passion in Jerusalem – but don’t assume this is the case. Jesus also said to leave in some circumstances.
(Matt. 10:14) “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
(Matt. 15:14) “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Leaving to find something that was lost
We may be content where we are, but if you have lost something important you may need to leave to go look for it. “Leaving” in this case may mean giving up your comfortable devotions and wrestling with God in prayer, or starting to go on personal retreats when you haven’t done it for years, or experimenting with listening prayer.
(Matt. 18:12) “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?”
Leaving behind sinful ways
There is always leaving behind our besetting sins and attitudes! We leave behind active sins of pride, anger and greed; we also leave behind attitudes of mistrust and despair.
(John 8:10-11) Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Leaving paid or volunteer work for different work
Sometimes we’re doing a perfectly fine job in our paid or volunteer work – and God tells us to go do a different work.
(Acts 16:9-10) During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
An End to Leaving
And then one day we will come home and will never have to leave again.
Rev. 3:12 “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.”