And seek the prosperity of the city where I have deported you, and pray on behalf of it to Yahweh, for in its prosperity you will have prosperity.’” (Jeremiah 29:7, LEB)

God’s instructions to the Jews who were sent into exile in Babylon.  They would be there for 70 years.  These are very surprising instructions! The Archaeological Study Bible comments here: “Seeking and praying for the prosperity of one’s captors was an unprecedented and unique concept in the ancient world.” One usually endured exile, one did not pray for those who had been the instrument of exile.

God tells the exiles to seek the “prosperity (shalom) of the city where I have deported you.”  Shalom here means the overall welfare and good of that city and nation.  The Jews would be inextricably linked with the place where they were going so if it prospered, then they would prosper.  God tells them to pray for this.

We are not Israel, and yet there is a principle here that matters to us.  God has placed us where we are to be a witness to those around us, and part of that witness includes working for the good of our communities.  In their prosperity, we will gain prosperity, and as we work for the common good, everyone around us will benefit and God is glorified in that.