Imagine being exiled from your home where you’ve lived all your life and forced to move to a faraway land…for seventy years. Would you panic? Complain? Would you keep your bags packed just in case you’re allowed to go home earlier?
In the Bible, God warned His people, the Israelites, that if they turned away from Him by putting their hope in false gods, oppressing the poor, and doing violence, they would be punished and lose their land. And it all happened just as God said. When Israel was taken into captivity by Babylon, a powerful enemy nation that worshiped idols, the Israelites thought it was the end—that God had abandoned them for good. Then some false prophets started saying God would rescue them from captivity very soon (Jeremiah 28). The Israelites were probably happy to hear that, wanting to get out of captivity as soon as possible and return to normal life. And if they wouldn’t be exiled forever, why bother to unpack and settle down among their enemies?
But then God told the exiled Israelites they would be in exile for seventy years. And, while they were there, He told them to do something surprising: to seek the good of the city—to seek the good of Babylon, their enemies—and not live like they are going to leave the next day. He told them to make homes, build families, and plant gardens. God wanted His people to invest long-term in the places they lived so He could bless their new home through them.
Sometimes, the Christian life can feel like an exile too: lonely, isolated, and discouraging. God’s good world has been broken by sin, and while we wait for Jesus to return and restore creation, sometimes this place can feel hopeless. But God makes desert plants thrive in the most desolate, dry places of the world, and He can do the same in your life, even when situations are not ideal. He has you where you are in your school, workplace, neighborhood, or country on purpose, and He is with you. He loves you, and He has equipped you to bring life and make the most of unique opportunities to share the good news of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection through words and actions. God works in beautiful ways, even in the midst of exile. • Abby Ciona
• Have you ever felt like you were stuck in exile? Did you see any glimpses of God’s goodness?
• What are some ways God has equipped you to share His goodness and love right where you are? If you’re not sure, you can ask God about it anytime, and you can also reach out to trusted Christians in your life to ask for their insight.
“And surely I [Jesus] am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NIV)