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. Lecia Papenfus says:

    This was a beautifully and powerfully written text today. Thank you Rebecca for bringing God’s word into such an amazing light. Blessings and health on everyone! Xo

  2. PAM G WILLIAMS says:

    Oh, my, the remnant ask for intercession by Jeremiah, who waits 10 days until he hears from the Lord, Who say, “Stay put!” I’m sure in the delay, they began figuring out what else they could do. Evidently, they wanted confirmation of their plan to move to Egypt. The wisdom of man is not the wisdom of God. And the memory of man is very short, as they forgot their promise to obey. We always think we must be moving and doing things to “handle” our challenges. But we really need to just “Say put” and wait for the deliverance of the Lord. This is my natural tendency–to be a “do-er” instead of a “be-er”.
    Lord, You’ve been teaching me this over the past three years: how to take Sabbath rest in the midst of the many difficult circumstances of my life. This is a hard lesson for a “figure-out-er”. You’ve put our whole world in quarantine. As we wait, we must seek Your face and pray and wait for deliverance.
    When I was in labor with my 3rd of 6 children (I usually had very long labors, even through #6, my labor stopped after a couple of hours. I was quite distressed, complaining, knowing I would have to once again go through the night. My husband went to get a cup of coffee. I began crying and saying, “It’s not fair!” I heard this voice say, “Well, you stupid little girl, I’m giving you a chance to rest!” I knew exactly Who was speaking, as that was the farthest thing from my mind. I immediately responded positively to this Sabbath rest. We must all right now look to Jesus and thank Him for that rest. May we see more of Him in these stressful times. Secrets of the Secret Place: there is no Plan B, only God.

  3. Natalia Wiginton says:

    Wow! So profound meditation about ‘ordinary obedience’… needed this. “Genuine remorse for sin produces a heart that turns away from sin and loves righteousness, no matter the circumstances…” ❤️

  4. Carolyn RayeParsons says:

    I agree. This does seem so appropriate for how we’re living today

  5. Stephie Gray says:

    “Obedience is the right response to every circumstance.”

    I feel miserable and alone in my current circumstances, but God still calls me to be obedient. I pray I will live with ordinary obedience throughout these bizarre times.

  6. Lori EllisGrimes says:

    Timely words. A gentle reminder of God’s goodness and promises “I will be found by you” in the midst of these uncertain times.

  7. Dee Wilcox says:

    Plant gardens, raise children, marry and give in marriage. Increase and do not decrease. Pray for the good of the nation where you live, even if it is not your own.

    Even in exile, even is discipline, God was with His people. He gave them practical wisdom and instruction so that they would learn, draw near to Him once again and thrive.

  8. Kaitlyn says:

    Wow, ladies. I went back to this page today and just saw all your responses. Thank you so much for the kind words and prayers. I’m going through and saving them all in a word doc to look back on. Now I know you all were praying for me, and honestly yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve faced in a while (the baby also had shots this week, so it’s been crazy around here). By the end of it, I was physically brought to my knees in tears, feeling so unsure about my abilities and completely overwhelmed. That hasn’t happened before. I haven’t felt that overburdened since he was first born. But I think that’s actually what I needed yesterday. All of your prayers didn’t make the baby sleep longer for his naps or make my life more peaceful, BUT I think God was intervening and showing me that I cannot fix it all. No matter how hard I try. I need Him. I need to call out to Him when I need it, not to the worldly things I usually reach for. So, thank you for every single response and prayer. It’s so reassuring to know there are so many of us going through these struggles and our own exiles, and there also so many of you who have already been through this before, who are cheering us on. Thank you. <3

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