Whether you walk with God or not, you will face challenges and experience setbacks in life. But with God, you never go through them alone. But, who you listen to and how you respond will make or break you.
In Jeremiah 29, the Israelites find themselves in captivity, and Jeremiah, God’s prophet is engaged in prophecy-correction.
Prophecy is being made about a swift end to King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire. These individuals were feeding the people false hope.
To speak prophetically about the future, attaching God’s name to it, means that something will turn out exactly as you said. When we do that, and it doesn’t happen, we make a bad situation worse.
These false prophets used all the right words, spoken with zeal and passion for God, but they were wrong. People accept them as credible because they liked what they heard.
Today the Bible warns us about looking for those who will say what our “itchy ears want to hear,” 2 Timothy 4:3. This is a dangerous path to walk down.
To stay the course with God requires us to accept the things we don’t want to hear in the flesh but help us toe the line in the spirit.
In the book of Jeremiah, Israel and Judah are reaping the consequences of their actions.
God’s grace does not eliminate the consequences of our actions but gives us the strength and courage to endure them and learn from them.
You and I have free-will. God will not restrict you from doing what you want. He will nudge and urge you along the way to make the right choice, but ultimately, it’s up to you.
We can make our choices, but we don’t get to choose our consequences or how long they will last.
Through Jeremiah, God sends a word to the 3,000 exiled in Babylon with instructions they were not expecting to hear. These instructions inform us of a very vital truth.
We are to grow in every season of life. When you are walking with God, every season of life presents an opportunity to grow and thrive.
Your circumstances do not constrict God.
Your circumstances are real, and the effects of them can be hard to deal with, but God “works out all things for the good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes,” Romans 8:28
Having been defeated and taken captive by Babylon, God instructs them to build houses and plant gardens. These are activities you do when you are going to establish roots.
There are three lessons for us to learn in Israel’s captivity.
#1 No matter our circumstances, keep living.
Don’t be fixated on the circumstances that you forget to live. There is a time to process how we feel, but part of that process is learning how to keep living.
Israel and Judah were instructed to give their sons and daughters in marriage.
#2 God desires that we increase in every season of life.
In some moments, the increase may be marginal, but we never give up and stop growing. This is only possible if we have the right mindset.
If our minds are set on:
- The spirit, we will increase.
- The flesh, we will decrease.
Jeremiah’s original audience likely struggled most with this command given in verse seven.
“7 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 29:7
#3 We are to pray for the welfare of the city, state, and country we live.
The word “welfare” is repeated three times. Repetition is an indicator that application is critical.
“Welfare” is translated from the Hebrew word shalom, and it means peace, a complete peace. “Shalom” is heightened by the word “seek,” which means to pursue, give effort, intentionality.
They were called to pursue peace. Not when it was convenient or only with those they liked but at all times and with all people.
Seeking peace where you are is impossible if you are sowing discord.
Israel was in a foreign land as strangers and exiles, among a culture that was categorically different from theirs. This made it difficult to seek peace and pray for the welfare of these empires.
Remember, this world is not our home. We live for a greater kingdom, and our primary purpose is to populate that heavenly Kingdom by sharing the good news.
Everything else is secondary. Keep the main thing the main thing.
We may disagree with Jeremiah or Paul’s words, but they are just the messenger. These are God’s instructions. We will either be led by our opinions or faith.
Faith produces results our opinions could only dream of achieving. God has plans for you!
Even during unpleasant seasons of life, God is at work for your good. He will be with you and will prosper you even when life is bad.