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THRIVING AS EXILES IN AMERICA

Dear Father of All, some of us are exiles in a foreign land and some of us feel like exiles in a land no longer our own. Help us to keep our eyes fixed upon You and Your Son’s victory over the horror of sin and death during these days when defeat would swallow us up. Show us Your Victory. In Jesus’ Name.

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.

Closing Prayer

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).

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9 Replies to “THRIVING AS EXILES IN AMERICA”

  1. Joyce,thank you for these words of hope and encouragement,.it is good to be able to see the faces occasionally of those praying with us,as in todays video of the live prayer.

    ..for quite a while I have been “hearing”..in my head ,the verses 4 -7 of that- Jer ch 29;-“..Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters”; as i have long wandered and wondered about wandering,so much more recently,(in spite of my ongoing financial poverty) now i know why..and ,it has been occurring to me that the longest running theme through all of the many years of sermons on christian radio,in my understanding,has been,to boil it down..roughly- “He is concerned about my(our) chahracter,not my comfort”.. a well worn summarization of how The Lord refines us in the fire in the process of being re made into His Image- “Imago Dei”..as Sean Feucht noted this past 9/11 weekend.
    My children are long past raising,having children of their own,which i do not have contact with..and the thought of facing these upcoming trials has long burdened me,..although old age has altered that perception as most other attitudes are – when held over the furnace of allowing myself to be continually molded, I guess..realizing more and more what it takes to stay in that willingness..

    So i guess my prayer is that- “Lord,as I know that i greatly desire continue to be willing to seek the process of submitting myself to the process of refinement ,that I may be found under the blood,worthy because of the blood of the lamb,not shirking in well doing ,only your grace being as a respite”..that I may be able to be a soldier in winning souls,not being found wanting upon your return-..and still speaking your name to those who may not know you, which is always the many,not usually the few,and ,as we descend in to this unprecented time of turmoil and tyranny,may I ,and all of us here,be filled with your peace and courage as we walk through things that most of us here in America,more painful than we have ever known- will now face– and will continue to speak your name and walk in your grace towards all,as an example to the newest of refugees from afghanistan,and to those who are not freindly as well,as they are arriving too,and may be the ones who take our lives in the process”..In the
    Mighty Name of Jesus,,Amen

    I don’t know if i covered any scriptures there, but i know what is required of me

    11
  2. Thank you, Joyce, for this excellent article. My husband, some years ago, took a seminary class on Isaiah by a professor named Walter Brueggemann who said these words: “Western culture now faces a displacement that may indeed be expressed as an exile.” My husband said that our time and place is much like Isaiah’s time and place so the prophet’s words are important to hear lest as his professor would say: “we wind up in Babylon longing for home.”
    It often does feel to me like we’re in exile but have never left our homes. We need to stay so close to the Holy Spirit that we can stand in this day and be the salt and light that we need to be.

    15
  3. Joyce,I too have the verses 4-7 as life verses. They mean much to me because I am not from here. God brought me and my family here for His glorious purposes and it has often felt like exile. But these words bring such comfort! His plans are multigenerational! ‘As for the faithful ones in the land, in them is all my delight!” Ps.16

    14
  4. What an enlightening, thought provoking prayer. Thank you for taking the time to write and share that prayer with us. I am convicted and challenged to ‘do better.’ Thanks be to Jesus Christ who, when we confess our sins, is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. [my paraphrase of 1 John 1:9]

    31
  5. Very good scriptures to abide by❣️Thank you Lord God for always being here with us in these disheartening evil times. May your Blessings come upon this country once again, as we seek your heart for righteousness to prevail, as we ask for forgiveness of our sin. We ask for revival and healing of our land. In Jesus’ name, we thank you.

    25
  6. 🙌🙌🙏🙏🙏Yes Lord, help us to be who You recreated us to be, Your body and the hands and feet of Jesus bringing His light to the ends of this earth, looking constantly to You, remembering that it is in You that we find our hope, peace and meaning. Forgive me for when I have heaped judgment on the wicked, You died for them too Jesus.
    Thank you Joyce for this reminder of who we are called to be in this land.

    29
  7. Lord God, we praise You and thank You for Your Word and the gift of prayer. We cry out for Your mercy and grace! We cry out for the power of Your Holy Spirit to lead us to repentance and restoration. We cry out for comfort and peace for all those suffering from persecution, war and separation. We know that all that we face and will face has been sifted through Your loving hand. We trust in You, Almighty God, to grant us wisdom, discernment and strength as You direct us through this difficult season. We pray for a harvest of many to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Help us to stand firm, occupy well as we proclaim Your perfect Truth. These are the end days….You will soon return….until then, find us ready with the oil lamps full! Maranatha Lord Jesus, please come in Your Name we pray.

    25
  8. Wow Joyce!! This is an amazing parallel!! I remember reading this passage in Jeremiah 29:5-14…and thinking, just like the children of
    Israel…we too have drifted so far away from God’s Holy word, (we too are a Covenanted nation) He must take action to bring us back. This is so hard to accept! But here we are!! But if we call upon God and seek Him, we will find Him (Jer. 29:12-14) even in captivity… as He did for Israel, He will do the same for us.
    THANK YOU Joyce, for bringing God’s word to light!! His perfect reminder…
    “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” Hebrews 13:5

    37
  9. Father God, may we continue to live in each of our states respectively, praying diligently for those in government offices, no matter the party, or friend or foe ….. that they would all come to know your Son as their Lord and Savior and that you would soften their heart towards You, giving them a heart of flesh. If they know You, may they act in conviction, committment and boldness to carry out your will each day in what You have for them to be and do. We pray and thank you in advance that You will place Larry Elder as Governor of California in place of Gavin Newsom in the recall Election, September 14, 2021.

    We desperately need Your influence and will in all the lives of peoples in California! Your Glory will shine in this state to bring the corruption down, shed Your light and love in this state and may it be a beacon of Hope, Mercy and Truth for the rest of our Nation in the Most Holy Name above all names, Jesus Christ, Amen and Amen!

    55

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