And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive,
and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.
Jeremiah 29:7 (NKJV)
First, let’s go into a brief back story.
The Israelites have been carried captive into Babylon and here we have the Prophet Jeremiah prophesying to the people and sharing the word of the Lord to the people as he has received it. Here Jeremiah is telling the Israelites to pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon… their land of captivity. Right, now let’s stop here for a few moments; reread the passage and deep what the Israelites have just been asked to do by God.
How is it possible that God, having known what has happened, can ask the Israelites to pray for the peace of the land of their (literal) enemies. To pray for the land of their captors?! When I read this passage, I was deeply struck by what it means to be a Christian and to follow God. To live as Christians, we must be willing to forgive and genuinely pray for the well-being of others even those who have hurt us. I’ve since come to realise that God did not require this of the Israelites as a punishment or as a way of rubbing salt in their wounds but rather as a means of providing a way out for the Israelites.
The passage shows that the end result of this, for the Israelites, was for them to prosper even in captivity; to have peace despite their situation. In life we will have many trials and many things will happen and many situations may not go our way but by focusing on God through it all and praying for those who have wronged us we can have peace. How can we say we have peace and have moved on if we’re not able to sincerely wish others well even when they’ve hurt us? It’s not easy and it might not be an instantaneous thing to do but I believe if God has required it from us, He will equip us to fulfil His word and when we look back it will all be to the glory of His holy name. I believe that peace should be a non-negotiable condition in our lives and that we should stop at nothing to pursue and to live in peace.
Keep the light burning.