1These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2This was after King Jeconiah, and the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. 3The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah sent to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It said: 4Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Like us, God’s people, Israel, were living as aliens in a foreigner land. Israel’s home was in Jerusalem. They were living as aliens in Babylon. Our home is in heaven. We live as aliens here on earth, mere travelers passing through to a better place. Yet, what do we do on the journey? What do we do in our temporary home? How do we live as citizens on this earth even as we wait for our true home in heaven?
The instructions God gives to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah apply equally to us. “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters . . . Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf” (Jeremiah 29:5-7). God’s Word to us seems to be, “Wherever you are, there you are!” In other words, wherever God has placed us for the time being, we are to make the most of the situation as we can, all the while caring for one another and the world around us, all the while bearing witness to the love of God in our midst.
It is true. There is no place like home. And yet, even when our journey takes us far from home—both figuratively and literally—still God is there. Still God is with us. Still God calls us to live as God’s people, never losing hope, but always bearing witness to the hope that is ours as children of God.
Legend has it that Martin Luther was once asked, “If the world were to end tomorrow, what would you do?” “I’d plant a tree,” came Luther’s response. Wherever your life finds you today, plant a tree and trust God to water it and make it grow.
Lord God, help me to trust more and more in your presence with me wherever I am. And, as I do, work through me to make my world a better place for me and for all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Pastor Greg Busboom