Hope for the Future
Speaker: Pastor Mike Dawson
July 17, 2017
A stand out is someone who is conspicuous in an area because of their refusal to conform with the opinions and desires of the majority. The prophets of the Hebrew Bible knew what it was like to stand out because how they lived and what they preached was counter to the rest of society. We can learn a lot about our own faith walks from the lives and stories of the prophets.
This week we talked about the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, for he had a difficult message to proclaim and he was empathetic to the people to whom he prophesied. Jeremiah relied on his call from God when all he got was criticism and scorn from others. He prophesied around the 6th century BCE in the southern kingdom of Judah before and during the Babylonian exile. Jeremiah was unpopular because he was the only prophet who said that everything would not be peaceful and that Babylon would overtake the nation of Judah. That is exactly what ends up happening, for Babylon overtook Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and sent many of the Judeans into exile in Babylon.
We read Jeremiah 29:1-14, which comes from a letter Jeremiah wrote to the Judeans, who were just exiled to Babylon. The Judeans were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to live in Babylon, surrounded by people who had taken so much from them. They left everything familiar for something quite different and uncomfortable. It is in this context, God says to plant roots, build homes, get married, and have children. God does not call the Judeans to rebel against Babylon, rather God calls them to love them and to pray for them. God commands them to seek the welfare of the city. We can relate to some of the experiences of the Judeans in that we live in an unfamiliar, uncomfortable time where the church is not as prominent in society as it used to be. God invites us to embrace and adapt to this new reality- to get comfortable in this uncomfortable place. Our task is to be faithful and hold on to the promise God is not finished with us yet. God’s plans for us are for our good, not for our harm, plans to give us a future filled with hope.
Similar to the Judeans, we have all experienced exile in the sense that we have endured some type of hardship, suffering, and unfamiliar terrain. God calls the Judeans to make the most of the situation by loving their enemies and praying for those who persecute them. While we sometimes cannot change our circumstance, we can control our attitude and behavior in such circumstance. We are still called to be a blessing to others even during the exile. We learn from this passage that God is always working for deliverance and liberation. While it may not always come in the way we expect, our God is our deliverer! God’s desires for us are for our good, but those desires are often fulfilled in unexpected ways and through rocky terrain.
Monday- Jeremiah 29:1-14
Tuesday- Jeremiah 29:15-32
Wednesday- Jeremiah 30:1-15
Thursday- Jeremiah 30:16-24
Friday- Jeremiah 1:1-19
Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. How have you experienced the “exile”?
2. How is God calling you make the most out of your present situation?
3. How can God’s promises impact present suffering?