“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem 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. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.
The Jewish people had been conquered and many had been taken captive to Babylon.
Babylon was their enemy and pagan in every way imaginable. Understandably, the exiled Israelites wanted to leave.
They wanted to return home, and many of the “prophets” fed this desire, essentially telling them to withdraw and wait, because God would take them back home at any moment.
In modern Christianity, we can easily adopt a similar mentality.
We can withdraw from our community and the world around us because they don’t share the same beliefs or values.
We can develop a survival mindset where we just wait for heaven or Jesus to return.
Just as God tells these Israelites from over 2600 years ago that He has purposely sent them into exile (verse 4), He wants us to live with the mindset that He has sent us into our communities for the benefit of our communities.
The same challenges God gives to them apply to us today:
- Make your home in your community.
- Work to cultivate your community.
- Raise your family in your community.
- Seek the welfare of your community.
- Pray for your community.
- Why? Because the welfare of you and your family is intricately tied to that of the community around you.
What would it look like for you and your family to open your lives to the community around you? How does God want you to pray for and seek the welfare of the community around you?