September 14, 2021 | Joyce Swingle, IFA Contributing Writer
Where are we? Meltdown in Afghanistan, exposing thousands of innocents to the terror and tyranny of the Taliban. Certain death for Christians and collaborators with the west. Sexual slavery for all child-bearing women…even some not yet old enough to be mothers.
Increasingly radical proposals and dictates from governmental and corporate authorities to force Covid vaccines upon people regardless of medical status or religious objection.
Indoctrination of a false national history in schools to lead children away from their parents, their country, and their God.
Relentless propaganda to force artificial divisions between people whether on race, sex, gender-identity, political party, vaccination status…even pet pedigree (rescue dogs being the PC-choice…yes, that’s a thing!)
Hundreds of thousands of people flooding over the southern border, many criminals and many infected with the very virus citizens are being pressured to vaccinate against — yet these migrants are allowed to refuse the vaccine.
Mainstream and social media slavishly supporting the talking points of the extreme left and crushing all dissent through “de-platforming” and “cancelling.”
Hundreds of thousands of babies continuing to die in the womb in horrible ways at the hands of supposed “healers” and by the choices of their mothers.
You might be excused for feeling like an exile in the land in which you have been born, raised, and lived for so long. You would be excused for feeling like your head is spinning, like you can’t believe what is happening to your beloved America.
You wouldn’t be blamed if you felt like you wanted to stay in bed all day, with your head under the covers. If you threw in the towel, so to speak, and solved Sudoku puzzles all day. If you unplugged and checked out.
Nope, I wouldn’t blame you. And I hope you wouldn’t blame me. But let’s face it, if we thought we could flee to Canada…as in those old ‘60s days…well, think again. Even Australia and New Zealand, long favorite fantasy escapes for me, are no longer potential refuges.
Where can we go now? What is happening here?
As always, the Word of God gives us Truth.
Foreigners in a Foreign Land
In the land of Judah — the southern kingdom of the once-mighty Israelites and the home of the Temple of the Lord God — there once was a lowly and lonely prophet. Like most prophets of Yahweh (the covenant name of the Lord God), Jeremiah had a difficult call — speaking over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant. (Jer 1:10)
And Jeremiah did that, speaking Yahweh’s judgment for the sin of His people and other nations. And he met opposition and he met resistance. And perhaps once or twice, he met repentance. But the nation Jeremiah cared most for — Judah — continued to rebel against Yahweh. Ultimately the nation met the Holy One’s judgment in the form of invasion and exile at the hands of the Babylonians.
It may be hard to imagine what it was like for the Israelites to be exiled to Babylon. A land where rulers and objects were worshipped as gods; where the government demanded at pain of death absolute fealty; where an unfamiliar, confusing language and heretical religion dominated; and where practicing Hebrews were persecuted.
And there were faithful ones caught up and persecuted in the judgment of the exile. For the people of God and the innocent are not always exempt from the effects of judgment. Remember Daniel? And his buddies from the furnace?
Living in Babylon might even have felt like trying to live as a faithful Christian in the United States today.
I can imagine a couple of responses to this situation in Babylon:
- Compromise with the governmental, societal, and religious culture. What’s the big deal? Abandon your religious conviction and go with the flow. After all, the Lord doesn’t want unnecessary “friction,” does He? That wouldn’t be a good witness, would it?
- Curse the wicked. Turn your prayers into weapons against all those who oppose the Lord and His people. Let the tongue be guided by feelings of hatred and spread a little vengeance around. After all, God doesn’t want evil, does He? Wouldn’t it be best if those who do evil are neutralized?
Sadly, I’ve engaged in both responses here in America, but there is a third response, and it is found in a letter that our beleaguered prophet Jeremiah sent to the exiled leadership of Judah.
Before we get to that response, though, let’s look at this important letter found in Jeremiah 29. It instructs the defeated Hebrews in how to live in a foreign land, and it warns them against listening to false prophets who have led the people astray. In Judah, this included the king, some of the priests, and other leaders who led the people deeper into sin while dismissing the warnings of Yahweh’s judgment.
But there is hope! This letter shares Yahweh’s promise of a day when He will restore the exiles to their original land — in fulfillment of His unbreakable covenant promises to the fathers of Israel.
These promises in Jeremiah 29:11-14 are a favorite set of verses for many (and serve as my life verses, too):
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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Frankly, I usually hear the first couple of verses quoted. But the final verses above are instructive also. Part of the important dynamic to restoration in the land is seeking God in prayer and intercession — something we intercessors at IFA know a bit about.
Wait, There’s More.
Recently, I’ve been drawn to the opening of the letter where I am reminded in verse 10 that the exile would be 70 years long. For some of the exiles, their time in Babylon will be their entire lifetime. Is that fair? Especially for the faithful ones? Lord, have mercy!
What might this mean for me, feeling like an exile in America? How long will it be before the land is restored? Is it possible that I will live in exile in these United States for a Babylonian-long lifetime?
Discouraging thoughts, for sure. And yet, the book of Jeremiah is known for its theme of hope.
How is that? How am I to survive…to get along…perhaps even to thrive…in such an evil culture…in such evil days?
Again, Jeremiah’s letter gives us the most excellent way…the way of witness…the way of Yahweh’s love. In verses 4-7 of chapter 29, the Hebrew exiles were urged:
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
The Hebrews were called to settle in; build their lives, their families and ultimately, their influence; and pray for the good of Babylon. Their good was tied up in the good of their enemy.
They were called to that third response to the foreign culture: To Commit.
Not to the evil. But to the Lord’s purposes in that culture. To build His influence. To plant the good Kingdom and allow the Lord to bless through them. To expand the people of God. To pray. To care. To love.
Some people believe that the writings the Hebrews left in Babylon influenced the Magi to search for the Great King when they espied the phenomenon in the night sky. And these visitors from afar knelt before that great King as He sat on His mother’s knee in a little dusty Middle Eastern village. Did Daniel know how far and how deep his influence on Babylon might go?
Do we? For we — exiles in our own land — are also called to commit to the Lord’s best for America.
We are not to give up. We are to establish our houses, our families — the family of Jesus Christ — in this land. We are to multiply the Lord’s influence. Most significantly as intercessors, we are to pray for the good of America and its people — all its people — for in God’s best for them, we will find ours.
Lord, please forgive us when we have compromised with the evil in America. And please forgive us when we have cursed people who do evil things, for Jesus died on the Cross for them, as well as us. Please forgive us for unthinking reactions of scorn, repugnance, and ridicule. For allowing cynicism, unforgiveness and discouragement to rob us of hope and to silence our prayer. We ask You now, Holy One of Israel, to forgive those who have sinned against You and against us and against each other. Cover all these sins — ours and theirs — by the Blood of Jesus and let our enemy lose its influence over the United States by the virtue of the Christ and His Blood.
Teach us the most excellent way — to commit to Your best for the land in which we dwell. To build our homes and the family of Jesus Christ here and to increase the influence of the Lord, that the nation abound in the blessings and salvation of Heaven. We lay hold of the heavenly way and choose Your welfare for this nation and for ourselves. In Jesus’ Name. Amen and amen.
Does this speak to you? Share your thoughts, and a prayer for this nation, in the comments below!
(Article by Joyce Swingle, IFA Contributing Writer. Photo Credit: Patrick Reichboth/Unsplash).