Blessed in Babylon [Part 1]
By Alan Wright — January 02, 2019
Are you ready for some good news?
In Christ, you can flourish wherever you are!
Today’s Text: “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. … 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 29:4–8, ESV)
In the new year, instead of focusing on resolutions to try harder, you can focus on God’s promises. Instead of challenging you to get more committed, I think it’s much more effective to bless you with the reminders of God’s commitment to you.
Today’s broadcast recalls a New Year’s message I preached some years ago taken from Jeremiah 29. The people of God were in exile. Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem in 587 B.C. and deported the people to Babylon. They wouldn’t return home until Cyrus of Persia granted their return in 537 B.C. For fifty years the people lived in a foreign land amongst pagan idols and unfamiliar people.
When you find yourself in “exile” you not only yearn to get back “home” but also you wonder how you should spend your time. The temptation is to distance yourself from your surroundings, withdraw, and wait for life to begin again once everything is “normal,” but that’s exactly opposite of what the Lord instructed the exiled Israelites to do. Instead, the word of the Lord comes through the prophet’s voice:
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. … multiply there…
Do you see the extraordinary hope in the prophet’s exhortation? Maybe you aren’t in the place where you ultimately are called to be. Maybe you’re single and you want to be married. Maybe your job isn’t your ultimate vocation. Maybe you’re in obscurity and your destiny is to be recognized. But, no matter what, the Lord intends to bless you and prosper you wherever you are. No Babylon can keep you from being blessed and being a blessing. And that’s the Gospel!