from Lynda Lindsey
God’s word to the Jerusalem exiles taken to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:5-7
…When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you My promise and bring you back to this place. Jeremiah 29:10
Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be My people and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:4-7
False prophets claimed Judah’s exile would be too brief to establish roots in Babylon, but God spelled out His expectations for His people’s conduct during the long seventy years of captivity. Instead of resisting and retaliating, God instructed His people to lead rich, full lives, to settle in and build homes, to marry and have children, to plant gardens, harvest crops, and to pray, seeking peace and welfare for themselves as well as for their captors. When we watch, work, and pray for our enemy’s success, we, along with the enemy, experience God’s shalom.
God disciplined His rebellious children by uprooting and plucking them up, delivering them into captivity, but God’s eyes were always on His children, always seeking their good, never their harm or evil. God promised to visit His people, to bring them back to their land, to replant, rebuild, and restore what He had plucked up and uprooted. God’s people would, at this time, eagerly seek and find God, for they would seek Him with all their heart, a heart newly soft and tender towards God. Exile can be a time to repent, to reflect, to strengthen hearts and hands in God’s ways; to remember He is our welfare.
God’s disciplinary goal is to bring us back into right relationship with Him. Even as God disciplines us, He sets His watchful eyes on us for our good, keeps His hand of blessing on us, and always keeps us in His diligent watch-care. Judah repented and was brought back to her true place of well-being. This land is not our true home; heaven is. Our welfare, our only true peace, comes when we are in right relationship with God, made possible only by trusting in Jesus. Pray. Seek the welfare of those around us, for in their welfare, we find ours. Return to God and know true shalom.