I wish I had found and known a text in Jeremiah about 40 years ago! I made some short-sighted decisions at that time based on the expectation of the Lord’s Second Coming. I was so sure of ‘the future,’ I failed to live in the present. Jeremiah, God’s spokesman to His people, lived through a time of terrible chaos, a wave of invasions, with friends and neighbors carried off to Babylon to serve that empire.
Hearing from the Lord that the captivity would last for 70 years, the prophet sent a letter to those who were exiles reminding them to make good choices and to get on with life. “This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.” (Jeremiah 29:3-8, NIV)
Lying prophets were telling those exiles that the Lord would surely intervene and that they would be back in Jerusalem in a short time. The lies were attractive and comforting to those who were struggling in a new land, living among pagans, lonely, and afraid. Jeremiah told them the truth – “You are not coming home. Your grandchildren will return so you have to get on with life there, full of hope, but not empty dreams!”
Christians there is great wisdom for us in that passage! We are aliens and strangers here on this earth, but it is our present home, so we must carry on with life – even as we hope for the time when God takes us home. We honor our God and bring glory to our Savior by being good citizens, industrious, and praying for our community. If we refuse to live now because we are so focused on the Second Coming or on some anticipated event, we make a terrible mistake.
Things will come our way that we do not like, that to all appearances could not possibly be the work of our Father. In my case, it is the death of my beloved wife. It is hard to keep faith that God allowed her to die. She was not just my love, she was my ministry partner, my ally and confidante. My world is upside down but I refuse to retreat into some place of irrelevance, to sit down and look for rescue. Instead, I take Jeremiah’s counsel to LIVE! Crisis will come your way, too. It may not be death, but there will disappointments, things that are, in the moment, so stunning that you will be tempted to just exist. Don’t do it. Live!
Jeremiah heard a further word from the Lord that he sent on those exiles, a word of great comfort, but receiving it demanded great faith. “This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14, NIV) None of what happened to them was beyond God’s purposes. His plans were in place and they were, ultimately, good plans.
Do you believe that God knows your pathway today? Can you trust Him with that thing that is hard, that brings you pain, that appears to be a dead-end? Oh, I am no fatalist! I know that even Christians sometimes go off track and miss the perfect will of their Father. But, even then, if we turn and seek Him, He can take our sins and give us new life and renewed hope. If you are facing dark days, keep on reminding yourself of His promise to the Jews – a promise that we can own, too – “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message) M
eanwhile, keep living! Make choices – spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational – that are healthy and that anticipate life for you and generations to come.
Jesus told a parable (a story that teaches a spiritual principle) to His disciples. It was about a nobleman that was going on a long trip. Before he left, he entrusted his wealth to three servants. That nobleman told them “Occupy ‘till I come.” (Luke 19:13, KJV) In other words, they were told to get on with life, to use the resources wisely and to invest them in life! Two of them did just that and were commended for their faithful diligence. One hid the treasure, keeping it safe, but unused. That servant was condemned! So, here is the phrase for those of us who are pilgrims, looking for a heavenly home. “Occupy ‘till I come!”
Here is a word from the Word. “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
Christ, alone, Cornerstone-
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love,
Through the storm He is Lord,
Lord of all.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil,
My anchor holds within the veil.
He is Lord Lord of all
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless stand before the throne.
Edward Mote | Eric Liljero | Jonas Myrin | Reuben Morgan | William Batchelder Bradbury
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