“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.” Jeremiah 29:7

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” Hebrews 13:14

Scripture seems to paint a symbolic portrait of two cities, namely Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon is a city given over to idolatry and adultery and every evil known to man. Its roots are in the Tower of Babel which is an unfinished monument to the insane rebellion of the human heart. Yet, not only does Babylon continue to exist, but it often seems to flourish, and at times, even to dominate the world.
In stark contrast, Jerusalem is the city where God dwells with His people. Jerusalem is where the glorious temple of Solomon was built. And the earthly Jerusalem is but a shadow of that “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”. With the saints of all the ages, we recognize that here we have no lasting city, but we seek – indeed our hearts yearn – for the city that it to come!

However, in God’s perfect purposes, he designed to send His chosen people to exile in Babylon. Babylon was not their home – it was strange land, full of idolatry, where God’s people were oppressed. Yet, in the verse above, God commands His people to seek the welfare of Babylon, and to pray to the Lord on its behalf! Babylon had crushed Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, killed many Jews, and carried the rest away as slaves. And God commands these exiles to seek the welfare of Babylon, and to pray to the Lord on its behalf!

In many ways, you and I are exiles, strangers and pilgrims in this world. This is not our home – we live in a strange world, full of idolatry, where, increasingly, God’s people are oppressed. But what should our attitude be? God calls on us to seek the welfare of our neighbours, of our communities, of our world; and to pray to the Lord on it’s behalf. Scripture calls on us to love even our enemies.

One day, Babylon will be destroyed, but our prayer and heart’s desire is that many former residents of Babylon will encounter in Jesus Christ, the greatest love this world has ever witnessed, and become members of that glorious city, the new Jerusalem! As the Bride of Christ, may we not be given to fear or anxiety or despair, though we live as exiles in this world, but may our hearts, transformed by His love, seek the welfare of all around us!