If I had witnessed the destruction of my community and were forcibly carried off, the acceptance of the new rule and order would be the last thing on my mind. Survival and fighting my captor would be top priorities. So imagine how the Hebrews felt when they read Jeremiah’s God given instructions:
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; Increase in number there; do not decrease. also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:5-7
Perhaps they were disappointed with God’s directions, but his mandate was clear. Settle down and seek the peace and prosperity of your new home town. Their captors were probably expecting to have to strong-arm the Hebrew people on a daily basis. Imagine their surprise when the Hebrews didn’t put up a fight, but dug in and made Babylon home. The newly vanquished were peaceful and prosperous; their community stood out from the other foreigners. Babylonians had to be asking why. If they followed the clues, they would be led to their God, Jehovah.
God’s instructions are often counter intuitive. We wonder why in the world He leads us into the circumstances and places He does and then his Word sounds out through the centuries:
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you” declares the Lord, “and bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-14.
These are not just words to toss out to 20-somethings contemplating their futures. They are an anchor to the present. Too often I get lost wondering what God wants me to do in the future that I neglect the very moment He has given me. I have been guilty of pleading with God to send me a message about the future down on silver platter. In response, He has asked me to rest in the knowledge that He has it all under control; He alone holds the plans in the palm of His hand. A heart that is at peace stands out. So much that it causes those around us to seek the clues as to why. God work that kind of trust into my heart.