Thursday, April 11, 2013

Living in Exile

Today's Reading

Yesterday we explored the call of Jeremiah (chapter 1) and the particular struggles he faced as he sought to faithfully live the life God was calling him to live. Today, we fast-forward to chapter 29 of the Book of Jeremiah. This chapter contains a letter written to the people of Judah, who were living in exile in Babylon. Although the letter reinforces Jeremiah's announcement of God's impending judgment, the letter also reassures God's people that God has not abandoned them or forgotten his purpose for them.
This letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon contains one of the most well-known verses in all of scripture - Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Although these words from Jeremiah are often quoted in a personal and individual context, they are actually directed toward the whole people of God. The purposes and plans of God are for the whole people of Israel, and by extension, the entire world.
It is interesting to note that the word that is translated as "welfare" is the Hebrew word shalom. If you read my blog entry entitled "Announcing the Good News" on Isaiah 52, you will recall that shalom has a rich and complex meaning. The shalom of God is the promise of abundance, blessing, wholeness, and peace. Therefore, Jeremiah is proclaiming to God's people that even in the midst of exile, even in the midst of brokenness and despair, there remains the promise of God's shalom.

The message of Jeremiah is desperately needed in our world today. People need to hear the good news that despite the brokenness of our lives there remains the promise of God's shalom, the promise of healing and restoration. People need to hear the news that God has not abandoned them or forgotten his purpose for them. Many in our society today will not "come to church" to hear this good news, so we must testify to the promises of God through the way we live our lives. Our lives should be living examples of the "hope and future" that God has promised for the entire world.

Jeremiah faced harsh criticism for his prophetic message. Yet he persevered in order to declare that God had not abandoned his people. Jeremiah, despite encountering many challenges, knew that the shalom of God would change everything. God indeed has a hope and future for his people. How is God challenging you live as a person of hope?

1 comment:

  1. To be a positive, uplifting example for my family and others I comes in contact with.