Jeremiah was told by God to put an ox yoke around his neck as a symbol of the captivity of the nation in Babylon. That caused a lot of rancor and anger and even attempted murder on the part of rulers and false prophets. If that was not distressful enough the prophesy came true. Jeremiah then writes letters to the exiles that are some of the most poignant in the Bible. One of our favorite Bible passages that seems to always be taken out of context is in this letter. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This promise comes in the midst of a call to pray for their captors and to work hard for the welfare of wherever they are living. They are told not to hate their overseers but to pray for them. All of this has the feel of an opening for mission expansion and witness. Chapters 29-31 are the letters.
Luther would later say something like that when he would urge people who might be taken hostage or captive by the Muslim invaders of his day. He says that they should be good servants and pray for their enemies and that they should memorize the second article of the Apostle’s Creed and it’s explanation so that they could give a good witness.