The Babylonian Captivity of the Church

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There are certain events that happen in history that change what people know as “Normal.”   There are watershed events that change the way we live and think and act and talk. Pearl Harbor in 1941,  Removing Prayer from School in 1962,  the Assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the national turmoil of the Vietnam War in 1968, Personal Computers going to market in 1977, Terrorist Attacks on 9/11/2001, and the First Iphone in 2007 are only a few examples of events that changed “normal.”  Now we are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Thanks to this Coronavirus, our churches are facing a New Normal of not being able to meet together except in cyberspace. People are wondering when we will get back to Normal.  Many of our leaders are saying that we will not go back to our Old comfortable Normal, but that we must prepare ourselves to live in a New Normal. We’re not sure what that means; however, I do plan to preach a message (after Easter) about the changes we are facing.

In Jeremiah 29, the  Jewish people were dealing with a watershed event – the Babylonian Captivity of Israel.  Around 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon beseiged the city of Jerusalem – destroyed the city and the temple and sent thousands of the Jewish people into exile over 700 miles from their homeland in Israel to the city of Babylon.

The mournful song of Psalm 137 describes the grief of the people. “By the rivers of Babylon, ​​there we sat down, yea, we wept w​hen we remembered Zion. ​​We hung our harps ​upon the willows in the midst of it.  ​​For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, ​saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ ​​How shall we sing the LORD’s song ​​In a foreign land?”

They did not want their New Normal. They wanted their Old Normal.  So they chose false prophets who preached what the people wanted to hear (Jer 29:8-9). These false prophets told them not to unpack their belongings because they were going home soon !   

Jeremiah says  (Jer 29:10) that according to the Word of the Lord that they are going to be in Babylon for 70 years.  So, get used to your New Normal!  Beginning in verse 6 – Jeremiah says ” ​Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit…. take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.  And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”

The main lesson we learn from Jeremiah 29 is that God is working out His plan in history.  While we are living in history, in real time, it is not always obvious what God is doing around us.  Often God’s plan requires us to change and move out of our Normal comfortable place in life which is uncomfortable and scary for us.  But the Lord promises us – that wherever He chooses to place us in life – whether it’s Jerusalem or Babylon – whether it’s  the America of the 1950s or the America of 2020 – The Lord promises to bless us if we will only Believe, Trust, and Obey Him.

Listen to Jeremiah 29: 11-13 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”