Jump Start # 2875
Jeremiah 29:1 “Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.”
Jeremiah wrote a letter. It was an important letter. It was for the people of Judah who were no longer in Judah. They had been taken captive. They were in the foreign land of Babylon. Psalms 137 says the people of Babylon wanted the Jews to sing some of their songs. But they couldn’t. How could they sing while they were being held captive and their beloved city was in ruins.
Jeremiah’s letter was important. It would address how the people of God were to act in a hostile and foreign place. There was very little in common between the people of God and Babylon. How were they to act as exiles? Were they to wait for a chance to break free in the middle of the night? Were they to try to overthrow the government? Or, were they simply counting down the days like a prisoner in jail?
And, immediately we ought to see a common parallel to us. While we are not held captive, we find very little in common with the people around us. The government is not a friend to faith. How are we to act while we are here? This past year has shown worldwide riots, the destruction of property and the most hateful things spread on social media. Here in a foreign land, how are we to act?
First, the Jews were to be a blessing to Babylon. They did this my making improvements. They were to build houses, plant gardens, marry and raise families. They were to seek the welfare of the city. That word “welfare” is from the Hebrew ‘Shalom’ meaning peace, health, prosperity. While in Babylon, they were not to be a pain to the government. They were not to cause trouble. They did not have to be watched. In fact, not only was it good for the Jews to be there, they were a blessing to Babylon.
That’s a thought for us. It is good that we disciples are here. We are to make improvements by illustrating obedience, integrity and hard work. We show the heart of a servant. We raise godly families. We pray for our leaders, even the ones we disagree with. We make improvements to the world we live in. It is good that we have been here. We are not to cause trouble. We are not to act in such a way that someone must watch our every move. We are to be a blessing. It is good that we have been here.
Second, Jeremiah’s letter reminded the Jews that they were not to forget God’s promises. Babylon wasn’t their home, Jerusalem was. One day they would be coming back there. One day the captivity would end. Be a blessing here, while you keep you eye on that home God has for you.
And, that is the same for us. While here, we are a blessing. We are helpful, engaged and encouraging. But, we never lose sight of that heavenly home. This world is not our home. We must never forget that. That influences how we treat others. That impacts how we care for others. And that is demonstrated by our hope to be with the Lord.
Here and there—that’s the concept. While here, be a blessing. However, our hearts want us to be there, with the Lord.
Some folks are so concerned about earth that they become like the world. They are conformed to the world. They are defined by the world. They are like the world. In becoming that way, they have taken their eyes off that Heavenly home.
Yet, others can be so heavenly focused that they are no earthly good. And, in becoming like this, they miss the essence of Jesus Christ. He made others better. He did that by healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons. He did that by showing people grace and forgiveness. He did that by filling hungry bellies and bringing hope to hopeless people. Jesus made a difference while here.
Here and there—powerful concepts. Often times, we don’t do well with here or there. We forget to be a blessing here and we take our eyes off of where we are going. You leave your mark where you have been. At school, years later teachers remember certain students. After an employee has moved on to another job or retired, some still remember him and his example. The same goes after we leave a congregation.
Be a blessing here and be hopeful for the home to come…all of this from a letter. But, what a letter it was!