God To His Exiles, Strangers in a Strange Land – Do Not Decrease!

In my previous post I made the argument that, for Christians, having children is not an option. Just this morning I was reading Jeremiah and discovered God actually agrees with me! I’ll admit, though, that I did get the idea from him first.

The book of Jeremiah is a tough read. Knowing that it was written by what some have called “The Weeping Prophet” gives you some indication that it’s not for the faint of heart. The northern kingdom of Israel had already been conquered by the Assyrians, and now God was warning Judah, the southern Kingdom, that if they didn’t repent and change their ways, they too would suffer the same fate as their northern brethren. The Lord tells Jeremiah to warn his people that the Babylonians are coming, and that they must submit to King Nebuchadnezzar and allow themselves to be taken into exile. Do not, he seems to be saying, resist the Lord’s judgment and your lives will be spared.

Those that obey are hauled off by the Babylonians to a foreign land, and now they must figure out how to live there. These Israelites had no idea what their ancestors had lived like, without a home or land. They were in the land on the other side of God’s covenant promise he’d given long before to Moses. Now things were about to change.

As strangers in an alien land, the Lord gave them instructions on how they were to live:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.

Given that the entire Old Testament, Jesus tells us, is about him, we can be confident these commands are not limited to the people of Judah in the fifth century BC. We know that, as Peter tell us, as Christians we are aliens and exiles in this world, strangers in a strange world. We all get too comfortable here, as if this were our true home. It isn’t.

So notice the Lord’s command to we 21st Century exiles: marry and have kids! Also notice the implication of his command. If we are not increasing, we are decreasing!

It would be too much to say this is a direct command to God’s people living over 2,000 years later, and a long way from ancient Babylon. But taken with the rest of Scripture, it is clear our God is a God of life, not of sterility. I’ve joked with fellow Christians, sort of, that we should out breed the enemy. So yes, I do believe Christian parents should, if God allows, have more than two children. Why would we not want to have more! Scripture clearly teaches, children are a blessing from the Lord. Why in the world would we want to limit God’s blessing in our lives? That’s a rhetorical question.