All these whom we have mentioned maintained their faith but died without actually receiving God’s promises, though they had seen them in the distance, had hailed them as true and were quite convinced of their reality. They freely admitted that they lived on this earth as exiles and foreigners. Men who say that mean, of course, that their eyes are fixed upon their true home-land. If they had meant the particular country they had left behind, they had ample opportunity to return. No, the fact is that they longed for a better country altogether, nothing less than a heavenly one. And because of this faith of theirs, God is not ashamed to be called their God for in sober truth he has prepared for them a city in Heaven.
(Hebrews 11:13-16 J.B Phillips)
Linking up with Five Minute Fridays, a place where we are given a word and a challenge to write for five minutes.
Again. I hear a simple, direct voice, say: “I have a plan for your life. It’s meant for your good, not your harm. A future and a hope.” I am relieved. I go to the book where the words were first written down by a weeping prophet. In this version it says, “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 ESV)
My eye falls on the word welfare, which has a footnote. Welfare means peace. Peace, well-being, that’s what I want.
Then I wonder, what’s the context? I’ve rehearsed that single sentence to myself for comfort again and again, but I want to know why God said it in the first place. Go back to the beginning of the chapter. Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon. There was some confusion. Was their exile temporary or was it for seventy years? Who should they listen to? Some were saying this won’t last; God won’t really make you stay there for seventy years. Jeremiah sends word to clarify.
Yes, God did say seventy years! And while you’re there, multiply, don’t decrease. Don’t wither up in despair. Live! Get married! Make babies! You are coming back to Jerusalem and you will need people to repopulate the Promised Land. And while you’re in the city of your captivity, pray for the welfare of that city. Because if you do, guess what, it’s welfare directly benefits your welfare.
That’s a real life example of praying for peace for your enemies.
Again God turns everything upside down on its head. Don’t believe the liars or the scoffers. God will keep His promises. Jesus will return again. And in the meantime, pray for the welfare of your city, the place of your exile, while you wait. And live again!