Come 9 August, Singapore celebrates her 54th birthday.
Jeremiah 29:7 has often been quoted on the Global Day of Prayer, the night before National Day when traditionally, churches of various denominations come together to pray for Singapore.
“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.”
I realized upon careful reading that the LORD was charging His exiled people to seek the welfare of not their own city – but a city in which they are temporary dwellers. Most of us in Singapore call Singapore our home. Jeremiah 29:7 teaches us a theology of movement – God moving in the nations as He moves us. Sometimes, He displaces us. Perhaps when we think Singapore is Home, Truly.
God sent Abraham out “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 2:1-2). His plan to bless Abraham so that he will be a blessing involved Abraham’s obedience to go where He sends.
God allowed Joseph to be sold out of his homeland to foreign Egypt so that he could one day rise to be the prince of Egypt and save God’s people from the famine.
God sent His repeatedly stubbornly disobedient children to exile in Babylon, as a loving discipline to them. It is in this context that Jeremiah said those words he said – to seek the welfare of the city where God has sent them into exile.
God Himself came in the flesh. He moved from heaven to earth as one supreme demonstration that He was willing to pay an unfathomably high price to be one of us. To die on the cross in the most humiliating and cruel way in human history and to rise again. He moved from heaven to earth and back from earth to the Father. Jesus the Son of God before ascending to heaven said His last words “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And lo, I will be with you to the end of age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
As if the Great Commission was not sufficient to drive home the point that God moves, He moves actively, intentionally, God allowed persecution to scatter the early church so that the gospel was brought to where God’s followers were scattered.
How about us today? Where do we move? Are we building our homes, marrying and prospering happily in Singapore as an act of obedience to Jeremiah 29:7? Look again at the verse. We are to seek the welfare of a city not our own. A city where we are strangers in the land. How well are we moving for the sake of the gospel? Will we move to welcome migrants in our midst? Will we pay the price to go beyond short term and simply go make disciples? Making disciples of all nations requires living amongst the people not our own. Are we willing to prepare for the Great Global Move?