Understanding Jeremiah 29 7: Seek the Peace of the City

a city at sunset

Jeremiah 29 7 is one of those verses that should show up in Christian vocabulary more often. And why not, it’s such an encouraging sentiment,

“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.” NIV

The Meaning of Jeremiah 29 7

Understanding Jeremiah 29 7
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If we are to understand the message of Jeremiah 29 7, we have to look at the verse in the surrounding context.

For years, the Lord had been sending His prophets to warn the people of Judah and Israel of the impending exile. The Israelites had forgotten the true God and were instead whoring after the idols of the surrounding nations.

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When His people did not repent, God raised up nations to invade the land and take the people into exile. First, the Assyrians invaded Jerusalem and carried away most of the people. Then, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and took captives to Babylon.

Before the exile, false prophets had claimed that what Jeremiah prophesied was untrue. Jeremiah stuck to his guns and said exactly what the Lord told him to say. He warned that the exile of the Israelites would last 70 years.

Yet, there were prophets who claimed the exile would only last two years (Jeremiah 28:11). They promised a deliverance that was not going to come. God spoke to Jeremiah and told him to write a letter to the captives.

Hananiah, the prophet claimed the exile would only last two years (Jeremiah 28:11). He promised a deliverance that was not going to come. God spoke to Jeremiah and told him to write a letter to the captives.

Now you would think that a letter to people who were so disobedient they had to be exiled would be harsh and full of punitive terms, but it was not. Jeremiah’s letter to the captives was filled with hope and great plans for the future. This is the context of our focus verse:

Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare. – Jeremiah 29:5-7 NLT

As you read through the letter, you’ll realize that it was a call to settle in. Contrary to what their false prophets were telling them, God wanted the Israelites to know they should practice contentment where they were. Deliverance wasn’t coming any time soon.

But it’s not a purely hopeless situation. God also encouraged them to pray for their captors, because, get this, when they prayed for the prosperity of their captors, God would bless them because of the Israelites.

I don’t know about you, but the idea that God will bless my enemies for my sake is mind-boggling.

In the midst of their punishment, God wanted the Israelites to be prosperous and safe. “Pray for the city’s welfare.” He said, “If they have peace, so will you.”

Related: 4 Tips for When Our Peace Gets Tested

God wanted His people to know that He hadn’t forgotten them. He was still willing to answer their prayers, all they had to do was ask.

How Jeremiah 29 7 Applies to Us

The lesson of Jeremiah 29 7 is still ours today. As Christians, we’re called to be sojourners on this earth. We should understand that while earth is not our permanent home, God has put us here for a purpose. We have a duty to seek the peace of the city we live in by lifting them up in prayer.

We may not be in the place that we want to be, but God still hears our prayers. He will answer when we call.

God is everywhere we are. The message of Jeremiah 29 7 is similar to that of Psalm 139:7-12. There is nowhere that we can go from God’s presence.

Prior to their exile, the Israelites had grown up under the shadow of the temple. They had heard the stories that the Almighty God, the Creator dwelt in the temple. In their finite imaginations, they may have thought that if God was in the temple, He couldn’t be anywhere else.

They were to find out that God walks over all the earth. He is not confined by walls. And He’s certainly not confined by our imaginations.

3 Tips to Seek the Peace of the City You Live in

How do you seek the peace of the city where you live? You may not believe that you have the ability to affect much as it relates to having peace in the place you live, especially if you’re not in law enforcement. But there are some simple things you can do to seek the peace of your city.

1. Live peaceably with others. Romans 12:18 encourages us to live at peace with others as much as it’s in our control to do so. As Christians, we show the love of God to others when we live at peace with them.

This may not seem like a big way to seek the peace of a city unless you’ve met someone contentious. Do you know what I mean? There are some persons who seem to be angry all the time. Because of their constant irritation, people who come around them tend to become agitated and edgy. These kind of persons do not promote peace.

As children of God, we are to pursue peace, and in doing so, we will affect our small space to promote peace in our city.

2. Do not incite violence. This second tip ties in with the first: as children of God, we should not encourage others to do violent things. We are not to be instigators.

3. Pray for your city. The best thing we can do to seek the peace of the city we live in is to pray for them. We are encouraged to pray for our leaders, the people who live around us, and the things that are happening worldwide.

If you’re not sure what to pray for as you seek the peace of your city, Scripture prayers are a great way to start.

How Jeremiah 29 7 Teaches Us to “Seek the Peace of the City”

Jeremiah 29 7 would have been revolutionary advice at that time.

The Israelites were told to actively desire peace for the same persons who had taken them captive. Instead of praying for their enemy’s destruction, they were to pray for their peace and prosperity. If the country they were living in was involved in a war, they would be affected too.

Like the Israelites, we’re to seek the peace of the people we live among. When we seek after something, it means we’re actively trying to find it. If we’re seeking for something, it has to be because we desire it or want to have it. If we’re seeking something, we’re asking for something from God.

That leads us to a pertinent question: today we live in a society ravaged by the enemy, are we praying for the peace of the city/country that we’re living in?

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