Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the residue of the elders of the captivity, and to the priests, to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon, (after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths, had departed from Jerusalem), by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon). It said:
Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives whom I have caused to be carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and dwell in them. Plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and father sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there, and don’t be diminished. Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to Yahweh for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”
One thing that we get to enjoy in the Bible is the ability to read other people’s mail. This is one of those letters. This doesn’t mean that reading other people’s mail is a virtue. It’s OK to do here because it’s an “open letter” that God wanted everyone to see. In this case, it’s the letter that Jeremiah sent to the captives that had already been taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. It’s a letter that was meant to be spread around to all of them. This is the very same way that much of the New Testament was written. Many of those books are simply letters that were intended to be read by many people. Perhaps this letter was a pattern for the ones to come.
Jeremiah’s letter is actually very comforting. Not only does it give the people specific instructions from God, those instructions are that they should settle down and start building families in Babylon. He told them to go ahead and plant gardens and eat the fruit of the land. Not only were they to live in peace, God told them to seek the peace of the city. In fact, God bound the two together. Their peace would now depend on the peace of Babylon.
Right before I started writing this today, I listened to a message that stated that America is a secular government and it has become increasingly anti-Christian. In a way, America is one of the last parts of “western society” to become anti-Christian. Beside the fact that “secular government” is wrong and should never have been celebrated, what should our response be as Christians to the situation that we now find ourselves in?
Some have decided to protest. Others have become more politically active. This radio program suggested that the Gospel needed to be preached. All of these things sound good to me, but how do any of those things solve the identity problem America has. If we are secular, we can’t be “under God.” The two don’t go together because God clearly says that there should be no other gods before Him. If America is a secular nation, what should a Christian do about it? If we are to hate the world, should we fight against America? I would suggest that since God has not given us any other option, that we follow God’s word that Jeremiah gave to the captives. Let’s pray for the peace of America. That doesn’t mean that we accept secularism. Peace can’t come from secularism. It can only come from Christianity. When we pray for the peace of our nation, we are also praying for the Gospel and that America will become a nation that is under God, because without Jesus there can be no peace. When America is truly at peace, we will also be at peace.