IBS March 14th, 2017
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take 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. 7 But 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.”
Though I’ve known this chapter a lot throughout my life, the Lord never ceases to teach me and show me new things. The children of Israel were headed into exile for many years; yes this we know. For me though, how I have easily overlooked many times is the the Lord’s instruction to his children while they are in exile: to build houses, live just as they would in freedom, multiply, and seek welfare in the city of exile. For He says, “for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” How often have I looked at the exile of the children of Israel as a season of welfare? I have no doubt the Israelites thought the same thing themselves at on point in time too. Yet, I am wrong. For indeed it was the Lord himself that declared that there was welfare within the exile. He told his children to live a productive life; He told them to build, plant, eat, and multiply… to seek the welfare in the city of exile.
The Lord had greater purpose for his children than just having them mourn and wallow in self-pity. He had blessing for them amidst the trial, purpose beyond the persecution. Also, later in verses 10-11 we see that one of God’s purpose was to fulfill His promise when seventy years in Babylon had been completed. Truly God’s way is higher than our way, His thoughts higher than our thoughts.
What seasons of exile has the Lord so faithfully brought me through? How great is the welfare He has brought forth through these exiles! In fact, far more welfare has come from the trials and exile. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, one of the definitions fo the word exile means: state or a period of voluntary absence from one’s country or home. When I read this, I knew it was no coincidence that the Lord had me read through Jeremiah during this season of my life. My time here in Cambodia is my season of voluntary exile here in the Ignite program. Though surely at first it felt like exile in a negative way and I began to ask the Lord, “Did I make a mistake in coming here?” He has been faithful to show me sine the beginning that it was indeed not a mistake. Rather, it has brought forth the purpose I believe the Lord had had planned all along. Truly, by choosing to build, live, eat with the people, and form relationships appointed by God, the welfare has been more than abundant.
Voluntary exile; this means that it has been done or given because I want to and not because I was force to. It was done by choice. Yes, the Lord gave me a choice in coming to Cambodia and in coming to the Ignite program in general. I never HAD to come.. I was not forced to come. Although there have been times of great feelings of being “forced” (as human and fleshly as it sounds) by the Holy Spirit to come, or to live with full regret the rest of my days if I had not come, I know it was the Lord who chose this season for me to accomplish His purpose. Truly I have been able to build a temporary home hear, eat of the produce of the land, and have seen the increase of lost souls becoming found as children of God.
How silly of me to doubt that the Lord would work out everything for my good. I know with all my heart that this has been a season of abundant blessings, and the work I have seen You do in my life Lord and in the life of many others has definitely squashed the seasons of bad and discouragement. You have said to me: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will here you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12) Thank You, Lord Jesus, for showing me the welfare within the exile..it has been through your children here in Cambodia that my desire for heaven has been encouraged and uplifted. Thank You…