We’ve been tracking with this theme for a 3 weeks, and I’m sure someone has thought or said this to themselves during our conversations, “But I don’t even like my neighbours…I don’t like my neighbourhood…I wish I didn’t live with these people”.
As we finish up our series, we look at a place in scripture where Israel was displaced and living in a place they wish they didn’t. They felt homeless and out of place, not fitting in with their new surroundings.
We find ourselves in Jeremiah 29…Israel is in Exile. They’ve been brought to Babylon by another king, and of course don’t like it one bit. God tells them that there is a purpose in this; that he can use them there, but of course this is hard to take or listen to.
Here are words to people who don’t like their new neighbours, who are unsettled, who don’t fit in, and wish they were somewhere else.
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”8 … 10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…
A few things we want to point out here…
- This is a letter to exiles
- Those Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Israel to Babylon
- Babylon has become a metaphor for displacement and not fitting in…as Israel is in another land…
- God is saying that he sent them there
- They have a purpose to be there
- Israel isn’t lost or misplaced, they’re exactly where they need to be
- Israel doesn’t know how to act or live while placed in a neighbourhood they don’t want to be in. God says…
- Build Houses / Live in them
- Plant Gardens / Eat from them
- Do life, Get Married, Multiply, Increase
- AND…the key verse here:
- “Seek the welfare (peace & prosperity) of the city I have sent you to”
- Pray for your neighbourhood, your city, your region, your country
- Sounds like, “Love your neighbour as yourself”
- Wish for your neighbour what you wish for yourself. If they prosper, you prosper.
- You are not an island unto yourself
- Later we read, “I know the plans I have for you…your welfare, your future, your hope.
- As we pray that for others, know that God is planning that for us.
- Finally, God says, pray & call on me. Seek me and you will find me…I will be found by you.
“When you find a home in God you will always feel at home wherever you live.”
This is a story about people who are sent to live with neighbours they don’t want to live with. They’re struggling with how to live their faith in the midst of a culture that doesn’t acknowledge GOD as their God.
What does God tell them/us to do?
- Bloom where you are planted
- Pray for your neighbours
- Pray for your city
- Pray that they do well
- Pray to me…seek me…I’ll be right their with you the whole time.
– – – – – – – –
So, we want to end our series, won’t you be my neighbour? with some prayer and some homework.
– a neighbour you like or love (someone who’s blessed you)
– a neighbour you do not like or don’t get along with (someone who’s hurt you)
– your city, region, province, country
HOMEWORK for the SUMMER…(60 Day Challenge)
– Attempt to have meaningful conversations with at least two neighbours this summer that is
a little more than chit chat…
– Purposely engage in an act of kindness that serves a need or seizes an opportunity that you’ve become aware of…
– Ask God to use you to speak encouragement to your closest neighbours (family/friends).
– Walk across the street…more than you currently do.
– Read one gospel book (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John)
– Read one short NT book (i.e. Philippians, Ephesians, Jude, etc)
– Start each week with one Psalm (i.e. 1, 4, 8, 13, 15, 23, 46, 51, 100, 133, 139, 150)
– Pray before & after (simple prayer with Praise, Confession, Gratefulness, Requests)
– Rest/Unplug (make sure to rest when you have the opportunity, this is spiritual too)