Day 24

Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles

from the Lent 2020: His Love Endures reading plan

Jeremiah 29:1-32, 2 Kings 22:3-13

BY Rebecca Faires

Are you sitting down? I mean, comfortably? Is everything in order around you—dishwasher running, floors swept, dinner in the oven, finances in order, the right color of throw pillows on your bed, exciting opportunities on the horizon, and peace within and all around you? Sometimes the stars align and all our circumstances seem to be exactly under control. I like to wait for that moment to start writing. Or to sit to read my Bible. I used to feel like I was waiting until I was married to really start living. But now that I am married with a family of my own, there’s always one more piece I determine to be missing from the puzzle—one more excuse to keep me from faithful obedience.

It’s hard to lean in and flourish when you’re waiting for everything to be perfect. Judah was in exile, living in Babylon, with every reason to give up and just spend years sitting angrily with their arms crossed. But Jeremiah calls them to walk in ordinary obedience, to be a blessing to the nation they are in. “Pursue the well-being of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it thrives, you will thrive” (Jeremiah 29:7). They had every reason to hate the Babylonians, but they were deported by the righteous judgment of God, who was now calling them to repent, and walk in ordinary, daily obedience.

Often we want our repentance to be a single extravagant display of remorse. Then, after we think we’ve made a big enough deal about how sorry we are, we want everything to go back to normal: we want to have our own way again, and we want the consequences—the deportations, so to speak—to be reversed. But here we learn much about the true nature of grace and a relationship with God: repentance and forgiveness, obedience and blessing.

First, true repentance isn’t focused on the removal of consequences. It is a return to obedience. Genuine remorse for sin produces a heart that turns away from sin and loves righteousness, no matter the circumstances. Second, God’s forgiveness isn’t really even about circumstances. We can’t judge our position before God simply by how well we seem to be doing on the outside. His forgiveness begins by changing our hearts and our spiritual position before Him. Our temporal circumstances are a secondary matter. Third, God calls us to obedience at all times. Repentance produces obedience, and grace bears the fruit of obedience. Obedience is the right response to every circumstance, whether good or ill. And ordinary, daily obedience—loving our neighbors, being fruitful, making disciples—is to be a continual mark of God’s people.

We are called to be a blessing, even to our captors. Though this runs counter to every human inclination, it should be no surprise. It is, after all, at the heart of God’s covenant promise to Abraham: “All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3), and in Christ’s command to His disciples: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Every judgment of God is a gift of His mercy and grace. Even in a foreign land, God promises His people the grace of His presence: “I will be found by you” (Jeremiah 29:14). As He forgives their iniquities, He gives them Himself, and beckons them to share their knowledge of Him with the nations. This is the call that has gone out since the beginning of the world: repent and believe in the one true God. Be fruitful and multiply. Go and make disciples. For the kingdoms of this world will “become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and he will reign forever and forever” (Revelation 11:15, ESV).

We are all sojourners in a strange land, wanderers like Abraham, like Israel and Judah. Christ calls us to allegiance to a kingdom that is not of this world: to pray to Him and search for Him with all our hearts (Jeremiah 29:12–13). He calls us to remember that whether we are in our own land or in exile, we are ambassadors for His kingdom. The ordinary obedience of believers is perhaps the chief defense to a watching world, the beauty of the gospel pointing to the glory of the kingdom of Christ.

Post Comments (99)

99 thoughts on "Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles"

  1. Cori says:

    Oh, this is so unintentionally timely. I certainly needed Jeremiah 29:11-12 today: “For I know the plans I have for you… plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:28 is a gem as well—a reminder to continue to the good things of life through the hard times and “lean in and flourish,” even when things aren’t perfect. “Flourish” is my word of the year, and this year certainly isn’t going as expected. It is my prayer that God will reveal ways in which I can flourish in this odd season.

  2. Jennifer Anapol says:

    This reading is so timely for what we are going through right now. This global pandemic has made me feel exiled from my normal way of life. I’m not sure how long we will be in this place, but I know that God has a plan for us while we are here. I pray that I would be a light to those around me and not wait for everything to be perfect to truly live. Life is happening right now, it’s messy, but it’s the life we have. We must remember that this isn’t our home. We can’t expect perfection outside of heaven.

  3. Bridgette Alvarez says:

    It’s so awesome to be reminded that God is for us. We only need to trust Him. He will bring us through EVERY circumstance.

  4. Melissa Mcronney says:

    I was deeply blessed.. thank God for His word..

  5. Cristina says:

    Prayers going up for you Ashley. I don’t live alone, but my husband is gone when I get up and is not home until late in the evening. We live in the country and I very rarely go anywhere now. My doctor’s visits, church, Bible Study groups, lunches out with friends have all been put on hold for the foreseeable future. I have been spending much more of my time in the Word and am finding a peace to my days. I’m even signing up for classes on line, sending more text to friends and family, because I seem to have more time. I pray peace and renewal for you in this time.

  6. Dorothy says:

    In Jeremiah 29: 11 God says He knows the plans He has for me and all of us. He knows them from our birth. I just need to let God take the reigns, what about you? In verses 12, 13 and the first part of 14 He says all I/we have to do is call on Him. I know that all of this is restated in the New Testament, I’m not sure where, but if it is restated then God wants me/us to listen. Yes, He was talking at this time to His people but I believe these messages were meant to continue to apply. As Rebecca points out in her devotional “Christ calls us to allegiance to a kingdom that is not of this world: to pray to Him and search for Him with all our hearts.” Obedience is what God is looking for from me and all of His children. He wanted back in Jeremiah’s time and He wants it now. It’s as Rebecca says, “He calls us to remember that whether we are in our own land or in exile, we are ambassadors for His kingdom. The ordinary obedience of believers is perhaps the chief defense to a watching world, the beauty of the gospel pointing to the glory of the kingdom of Christ.” Lord, help to live a life of obedience and worthy of You. Help to show others around me Your love and kindness. Keep all of my SRT sisters, my family, my friends and myself safe from terrible virus going around. Amen

  7. Sarah D. says:

    Man, so so timely and needed! I’m in college and our school just announced that we’ll be moving online as of Monday (we’re on spring break now) and that we have to move out our stuff from the dorms by Tuesday. So crazy. Such a great reminder that God is sovereign and in control, no matter what. He has a plan, even though this was NOT in my plans for how the rest of the semester would look. Bittersweet to have it end like this, but I know it’s for the best. Love you SRT sisters, praying we grow deeper in Christ during this season and share the peace found in Him with the world!

    1. Mari V says:

      Praying for you Sarah. My son is coming home from college this weekend. They’ve already been online in the dorms. He’s one of the few that stayed back at the University because they were given the option but now they have to come home.

  8. Ashley P. says:

    So grateful for you ladies and your wisdom and encouragement. I’ve been struggling with loneliness and some anxiety lately, as all of my social things are put on hold and my job as a teacher is filled with unknowns at this point. I’m realizing that I normally busy myself so much with work, school, exercise, and evening events that I mask the longing I feel for a family (I’m single) when I’m still. Now that I’m being forced into stillness, I’m battling serious discouragement and struggling to have a right attitude. I’ve spent the majority of the past few days home alone. I’m seriously wishing I at least had a pet at this point! But, reading your posts and spending time in the Word has brought me encouragement. I know God is with me and has plans to bring about good even through this. Lord, may you use this time to refine me, shake off my clinging to the idols of busyness and distraction, and do a work in my heart for your glory.

    1. Ashley Ready says:

      Praying for you Ashley! You are not alone! Praying for so many that live alone and are confined to their homes. I pray that you can connect with family and friends in other ways and also here in this app! May this be a renewing time in the midst of such uncertainty!

    2. Kaye Aber says:

      You are not alone Ashley!!! Keep leaning into God!

    3. Sheila Ezell says:

      Praying for you Ashley. Maybe you could go to an animal shelter and rescue a fur baby.

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