The predicted Babylonian exile had happened. Despite the false prophets and the false claims of freedom and prosperity, the children of Israel had lost their promised land. But God had not abandoned them. In the midst of their exile there was grace.
God sent a message through his trusted prophet Jeremiah. They were to pray for the city so that God could bless it. If the city was blessed, they would reap the benefits.
In the midst of their punishment, God wanted them to be prosperous and safe. "Pray for the city's welfare." He said, "If they have peace so will you."
God was telling His people, "I haven't forgotten you. I will still answer your prayers. All you have to do is ask."
This lesson is still ours today. 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 this verse is similar to that of Psalm 139: There is nowhere that we can go from God's presence.
The Israelites at this time grew up under the shadow of the temple. They 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.
How do you seek peace?
When we seek something we're trying to find it. If we're seeking something, it has to be because we desire it or want to have it. If we're seeking, we're asking for something from God.
The Israelites were 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.
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?