4 “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.
I’ve never been in exile. I can’t pretend to know what it would have been like to be one of the members of Israel and to be captured, taken to a foreign land, my home destroyed, my place of worship destroyed. And to then be faced with the long wait of when I’d be able to go back home.
I wonder what Israel’s sentiments were toward their capturing nation. My guess would be this: an attitude of hostility rather than willingness to participate in community and lay down roots. And yet God tells His people to build, to live, to plant, to eat. He tells them to stay. Yes, deliverance will come but right now, in the here and now, He wants them to make the choice to work while they wait.
How easy would it have been for the Israelites to distance themselves from their captors? To live in such a way that screamed to the watching world that “we are only here temporarily so we are not invested in our community”? How much more natural would it have been to just scrape by, pining away for the time to return to their home?
But God instructs them to live there, to invest there, to create there, to put in the hard work and take the long road. Not an easy command to follow. But, contrary to what we often think, God’s instructions are for our best. He doesn’t just make them to boss us around. He knows what’s best for us and for those around us who are watching how we live, how we live in His Kingdom, in His way.
Let’s bring it down to today. You’re probably not living in exile either. But are you in a waiting stage in your life? What season do you find yourself in? And are you thriving in that season or wishing and waiting for the next one to begin? When that perfect job lands in your lap, the perfect mate comes along, the kids are out of the house, etc. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal one way you can start living, truly living today in the current season you are in. Ask Him to show you how you can specifically dig down deep and start working while you are waiting.
By Ellen Rosenberger