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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 29:3b-9

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 17, 2015

It said:
4 The LORD of Armies, the God of Israel says to all the exiles I have carried off from Jerusalem to Babylon. 5 “Build houses and settle in them. Plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Get married and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage so that they may have sons and daughters, too. Multiply there and do not decrease in number.

Jeremiah makes his message clear to the exiles, in case there might be some there who never heard God’s word to them. Settle there! It is God’s will that you are there! Jeremiah’s first message from God, his call into the prophetic ministry, was to “build and plant” (1:10). These are the words he uses to tell the people what to do in Babylon. Build houses and plant gardens. The people were in for a long stay, and they should not live like strangers in the land, but live knowing that they would be there for a lifetime.

Another command from the Lord was the reminder to keep having babies: “Multiply there and do not decrease in number.” God wanted them to remain a large and strong nation no matter where they settled.

7 Seek the peace of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because in its peace you will have peace.”

This might have seemed like a radical idea to the exiles. They were to pray for the well-being of their captors. But the reason was simple: If Babylon had peace, the Babylonian exiles would have peace. This was a fourth commandment issue for the Jews.

Now that Babylon had become their government, they were to be subservient, to pray for the welfare of Nebuchadnezzar, and also to work toward Babylonian peace in whatever way they could. The repeated word for peace here is shalom, a word familiar to most of us as a kind of greeting. But shalom is more than that. Shalom is completeness, peace, well-being, health and even tranquility.

8 The LORD of Armies, the God of Israel says, “Do not let the prophets and diviners who are among you deceive you. Do not listen to their dreams. 9 For they prophesy falsely in my name, but I did not send them,” says the LORD.

The next point the Lord makes through Jeremiah is about false prophets. The people should not listen to them. This could lead to unrest, depression, and even chaos and upheaval among the exiles. They could not have peace and prosperity in Babylon if they were being constantly stirred up by men telling them that they would be going home next week.

This was not an easy judgment, but it was the word of God. Settle where you are and don’t revolt against Nebuchadnezzar. He is a man of a different religion, speaking a different language, with different ideals. But God was going to use him for the benefit of his people.

This is true of our attitude toward our government, as well. If we dislike our government, we have the right as citizens to vote differently, but not to use violence or to violate the eighth commandment in order to make changes. The government we have is God’s servant for our good. This would be true even if we no longer had a president and a senate, but if we had a king and a parliament, or a caliph and a committee, or a praetor and his legions. Pray for the peace of your country, and for the wisdom of your leaders.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.