In 600 BC Israel was captured by Babylon and while this was not the best of circumstances for the people they had to determine how they would proceed into this dilemma. Because the customs and mannerisms of the Babylonians were a stark contrast to the Israeli moral and spiritual culture they were left with a tough decision, what would God want them to do as captive people in a foreign nation? The Babylonians were persuading them to come and enjoy the benefits of the city hoping they would eventually lose their identity and spirituality as the people of Israel. False prophets were telling them not to venture into the city and to maintain their rich spirituality by avoiding the Babylonians as much as possible, this would be difficult and dangerous. It would make sense because the Babylonians would force on them laws and dictates they were not accustomed or allowed to obey. But God spoke through their prophet Jeremiah that He desired for them to both go into the city and enjoy its benefits while maintaining their moral and spiritual convictions. He explained that Babylon would eventually be judged but for now the people of Israel were to live life to the fullest – build houses – have children – take wives – plant gardens etc… Jeremiah 29:7 Tells the people they are to seek the welfare of the city where God had sent them into exile, and pray on its behalf, for its welfare because as the city does well so will you.
Light In Darkness
We live in a time and place where often it seems it would be simpler if God would just give us some little island where only followers of Christ could live without interference from society that opposes such. A place where prayer in school and public forum would not be lambasted by atheist who desire only to dismantle our belief systems, a place where our faith could be spoken openly and freely and love would just flow continually amongst us, and place that was excluded from laws that allowed for beliefs we did not hold.
America is full of moral conflicts that constantly interfere with our “Christian” beliefs and walk. Hot topics like abortion, homosexuality, and public prayer are always in the mix of subjects that are influenced by our justice system and those in political power. Wouldn’t it be better if we could just defect to some unknown area of the world and colonize where there is less chance of spiritual compromise? But what if God intends for us to seek the welfare of the city where we are at? What if God wants us to both enjoy the benefits of these circumstances and pray specifically that this society we live in prospers even though we disagree wholeheartedly with how it functions, morally and spiritually? Even in bondage the people of Israel were to be the light in the darkness, and even in times where we feel our nation is full of darkness we need also bear light. It is a tightrope we walk, living in the world but not being of the world. It is my prayer that we as a nation of people will prosper, that we will not lose our spiritual or moral bearings in the process, and that being light in the darkness we may draw to Christ those who need be saved. Amen.