Bible Study

To The Exile

To The Exile by Ruth O'Reilly-Smith

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There’s a well-known and much-loved verse in the Bible that fills the soul with hope for a brighter future. If you’re a follower of Jesus or if you’ve been to church a few times, I imagine you’ll be aware of this one. Perhaps it’s come to mind this week and you’ve spoken it out loud as an affirmation of God’s faithfulness in the midst of a hard season.

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.

Jeremiah 29:11

What you may not be aware of, is that this one sentence is taken from a long letter, written by Jeremiah the prophet who was still living in Jerusalem, to the Jewish exiles living in Babylon at the start of their seventy year exile in a foreign land.

Does it feel like you’re in a season of ‘exile’? Removed from the familiar, the certain and the known, you find yourself grappling for something solid to stand on, something firm and immovable to think on. Maybe this verse has been your anchor?

At the time, false prophets were assuring the exiles that they would soon return to their land. Respected leaders claimed that within two years, God would deliver the people from their enemy and they would once again settle in the familiarity of their own homes and culture. Jeremiah wrote with a very different message. It was uncomfortable to hear, but he also gave the people of God a way to journey well through this different season.

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 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. 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.

Jeremiah 29:5-7

Are you desperate for things to return to ‘normal’? Are you yearning for the familiar? Are you counting down the days till you can hand in your notice and finally be free from your job? What if God’s promise of hope and a future for you and for your welfare are right there, in that uncomfortable, new or unfamiliar place?

Whatever season you find yourself in today, trust that God is good. He is for you. He loves you and He has not forgotten you. Surrender to Him and He will show you the way through. He is working something good on your behalf as you lean in to Him and love Him with all your heart.

© 2021 by Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

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