Posted by: Pauline | October 6, 2013

Scriptures for Sunday October 13

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

The exile to Babylon had begun with great suffering – the destruction of Jerusalem, including the magnificent temple, which represented to the Jews the presence of God and His blessing. Then they were uprooted from their homes and carried off into a foreign land. They most likely anticipated a future of continued suffering, and probably wished that God would bring judgment down on Babylon for all the harm its rulers had caused to Israel.

Instead, from the words of the letter the prophet Jeremiah sends to them, it sounds like life is supposed to go reasonably well for them there in exile. Rather than mourning over what they have lost, they are expected to set about building houses, planting gardens, celebrating weddings, and having lots of children. They are even instructed to pray and work for peace and prosperity for the city where they live now.

In difficult circumstances, it can be hard to see the future in a positive light. Not only do we tend to focus more on how bad our situation is compared to how it was before or how we had hoped it would be, but it can seem that accepting the current situation is like saying it’s OK that things have gone as badly as they have. Even as we tell ourselves that God is in control, a part of us may still protest that God should not have let things go this way.

The Jews had to give up any hopes they may have had of going back home in the near future. Instead, they had to raise a new generation in this foreign land, yet find a way to maintain their identify as God’s people and raise their children to worship God, even while living in the midst of a pagan culture.

2 Timothy 2:8-15

Paul was also suffering, having been taken in chains to a faraway land. He expects to die for his faith sometime in the near future. Yet the tone of his letter is one of confidence – not in himself but in Jesus Christ. The resurrection reminds him – and Timothy – of God’s power over death. Even as Paul sits in prison, God continues to work among those He has called.

However bad circumstances may look, God’s promises stand fast. The one who remains faithful will live and reign with Christ. This assurance of a wonderful future, however, is not for those who deny Christ. God’s faithfulness in doing what He has promised includes following through on judgment as well as blessing.

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