Day 5: God has a plan for survivors, exiles, foreigners.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Jeremiah had a message from God for the Hebrew exiles. It was an important message and one most often misquoted in modern times. Jeremiah diligently wrote it down and it was hand-carried by a messenger, from Judah to Babylon – no less than 500 miles! “For I know the plans I have for you”. The Hebrew word translated “plans” also means “thoughts” or “thinking”. God wasn’t saying, “I’ve got plans for you” like a sarcastically, smiling boss would say. He was saying, “I have been thinking about you.” God, the living Creator of the Universe, omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, had His people on His heart and He was still watching over them, despite all that happened. He witnessed their suffering as their beloved city-the promised land, was ransacked, destroyed, and burned. God saw as they were carried off into slavery losing everything i.e. homes, farms, vineyards, livestock, family, and friends. The Hebrews had to have felt abandoned, alone, and perhaps, utterly hopeless. And yet, there was and is a God in heaven in control of their fate, because He had His eye upon them (Psalms 33:18-19). And as tangible proof, God even sent a letter; a love letter with personal instructions. God said, ‘what’s done is done, settle down, marry, and have families because you will be in Babylon the rest of your lives’. For the Hebrews, this was indeed, grave news. They had been falsely reassured that their captivity would last, but a few short years, not a lifetime. But living in Babylon wasn’t the worst of it, there was more. They was a mandate. Evidently, God decided to give them another chance to obey and it would be a difficult task; a task that is impossible without God’s help. God emphatically told them, ‘pray for the peace of the city, because your fate will be tied to the fate of Babylon. If Babylon has peace, you will have peace’. God would only bless the survivors, if they blessed the Babylonians! Basically, God was saying, ‘don’t hold a grudge, I did this. Remember, I AM, the unchanging God who won’t forget or abandon you, but you must forgive and obey. I have goodness for you and goodness for your children and your children’s, children. You still have a future; the Hebrew nation will survive, trust Me for I AM, your hope’. But you must forgive and obey. Young exiles like Daniel, despite being made eunuchs (2 Kings 20:18), forgave in obedience and God did indeed bless. Though the Hebrews were foreigners, they had important roles in shaping Babylonian society and its government. God uses all situations; even bad circumstances for His divine purposes. For “in darkness, God’s truth shines most clear” (Corrie ten Boom, 1971). And for us, this too, is true. Jesus is our future, our hope, and He is the one who is thinking about us.
Thank you Father for being the great I AM. We adore and praise You for creating a pathway to hope through Jesus. Help us to forgive and to bless those who hurt us. We pray Your peace over the work of VBS and Your kingdom work in the world. Make us a channel for Your peace; Your love; Your hope. Amen.
- Thanking God for being a God who excels at the unexpected and cares for the down-trodden. Help vulnerable children. Draw them to yourself.
- Teach us to rejoice in faith, even during our darkest moments.
- For the body of Christ to be strengthened in divine strength, mind, body and soul for VBS and the work ahead.
- For the Bible Discovery teachers to be strengthened in heavenly graces to discern, bear trials with joy, and to glorify God as in Ephesians 3: 16-17.
- For the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Graders, their Bible Discovery teachers and their families. Pray blessings over them. Pray that they will learn more in depth what it means to be a disciple and to be inspired to grow in their faith just as Daniel and his friends did. Pray that these children would remember the bible stories and how God spoke to them for the rest of their lives.