|Jeremiah "LETTER TO EXILES"|
November 7, 2012
Four more years ... of exile. But there is hope. Please read my thoughts on where we go from here. --Steve
I'm writing to you to explain why, even after a late and discouraging evening that stretched past 1:00 a.m. on the East Coast, I was back at the office before 8:00 a.m. this morning. And why the sinking feeling I felt last night has already been replaced with a deep determination.
And why I'm going out to buy equipment for our new office this afternoon. And why we are going to build, build, build -- despite a stunning and, for me, unexpected defeat.
+ + Let's Be Clear: We Just Got Pummeled
Before I go on, let's be clear: last night was a defeat, and I didn't see it coming. I expected a "Tea Party Wave" -- perhaps a 300+ electoral-vote victory for Romney. All the signs seemed to be there. The 2010 elections, the failed recall of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and even the Chick-fil-A Day pointed to a re-shaped political landscape. The polls and crowds made it clear that there was more enthusiasm with Romney.
But that wave never came. The people did not rise up and reject Obama's statism. Quite the opposite -- 15 million fewer people voted, and Romney earned less votes than John McCain did four years ago.
+ + Far Worse Than 2008
Upon reflection, what happened last night was far worse than what happened in 2008. Our first "dance" with Obama was mostly about smoke and mirrors -- "hope and change" that was never really defined. For many Americans, Obama 2008 was more an idea, an idealized dream and a collective catharsis from our dark past.
But Obama 2012 was something altogether different because now we know the real Barack Obama. We watched him advance the most radical leftist agenda since at least FDR. We saw him rape and pillage the free market and impose a government takeover of industries. We witnessed him go to foreign nations and apologize for America and then leave our people alone to die in Benghazi.
This time we knew Barack Obama. Yet a majority of American voters said, "More!" The opposition to Obama's agenda never really showed up at the polls.
We can try to console ourselves by saying it was a close election ... that the leftist media gave Obama the election ... that we couldn't really expect a Northeastern liberal Republican to be our standard bearer ... that a bizarre hurricane swung the election. All that may be true. But it matters little now. And the less time we spend blaming each other or the trickery of the other guys the better. So here's why I'm more determined ... why I'm building.
+ + A 2,500-Year-Old Letter Written for Today
I want to share with you a letter that, although 2,500 years old, it could have been written this morning. For us. For faithful patriots who feel like they just discovered they will have to live at least the next four years in exile.
This letter was written to Jewish exiles who had been pushed out of Jerusalem and forced to live under a tyrannical ruler named Nebuchadnezzar.
The exiles wanted one thing: they wanted to be re-established back in Israel. They even had a prophet named Hananiah come to them and tell them that their time of exile would only last two years. You can read about it in Jeremiah 28. Hananiah was a false prophet. He died.
And so Jeremiah wrote a letter to the exiles. You've probably heard a part of that letter recited many times. It's one of the most commonly quoted passages in the entire Bible. Unfortunately, this passage is mostly taken out of its proper context and delivered as a "feel good" word that everything is going to be O.K.
One of my friends was quoting this verse yesterday morning:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Those words sound so good. The future is bright. God has a plan for prosperity, for a real hope and a real future. On the eve of the election, it must have meant a Romney win, the GOP takes the Senate and we start the rollback of the Obama regime, right? Not exactly.
+ + The Plan Was Exile
Here's the shocking context of Jeremiah 29 (and I offer to you, the context for November 6, 2012): the plan was exile.
That was the "plan" Jeremiah's letter was talking about. I encourage you to go read all of Jeremiah 29. Here is the immediate context:
This is what the Lord says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you ..."
The plan was 70 years of exile. Keep that in mind the next time someone quotes Jeremiah 29:11 to encourage you that your time of trouble will soon end. Not only was the exile going to last 70 years, the exile WAS the plan!
If you don't believe me, go back and read the beginning of the letter, from Jeremiah 29:4. Here you'll see the Lord (through Jeremiah) giving the Jewish exiles specific instructions on how to conduct themselves in exile:
--Build houses and settle down.
--Plan gardens and eat what they produce.
--Marry and have sons and daughters.
--Marry off your sons and daughters so they can have children.
--Increase in number; do not decrease.
Again, remember the context. A false prophet had just come and said the time of exile would only last two years. That prophet died. The truth is, the people will be in exile for 70 years. And the directive is to build families, grow businesses, think trans-generationally and increase.
+ + Seek the Welfare of the Land
It gets better. Because Jeremiah's letter makes it clear that building and marrying is not enough. People in exile must do something else -- they must be a blessing to the land. "Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
So let's review. First, the plan is exile. Second, build. Third, bless. Simple, clear instructions. But why was this important? Why a "plan" for exile with specific instructions on how to act in exile?
Historians tell us it was during the Babylonian captivity that the Israelites moved from a Temple/Jerusalem focused society to a synagogue and community focused society. Simply put ...
It was the lessons learned during their time in exile which enabled the Jews to survive 2,500 years in exile. But not just survive -- but to thrive and become the most prosperous, most successful and most innovative people group in the history of civilization.
Exile was the plan.
So that's why, today, I'm going to build. And I'm going to plant. I'm going to bless. And I'm going to pray. For that is the final piece to the puzzle ... "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
So let's get building. Let's get planting. And let's get praying. And let's bless this land. There are lessons to be learned in exile.