There is a lot behind this verse that might not be apparent when you see it on a bumper sticker, tee shirt, or plaque. A few verses earlier, God tells his people they are about to be exiled from their home. They will return, but while they are in Babylon God tells them to:

“Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit… And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive” (verses 5-7)

The unique vocation of humanity does not get washed out in the receding tide of The Fall. Humanity has been exiled from the Garden. The Garden is our true home. The Garden is a physical place with physical manifestations of this vocation. But the Garden is much more than that.

The Garden embodies the relationship God intended to have with humanity. And we are commanded to cultivate that Garden. During this period of exile from the physical Garden, our task remains. We are to dwell on this earth as the exiles of Israel lived. God instructed them to build houses and dwell in Babylon as though it was their home while awaiting their promised return to their true home in the Promised Land.

While we live in exile in this fallen world, we are to make it our home. We are to build houses and establish relationships. Since we are exiled, we must do this by faith. And we are to seek the peace of our current world. The best way to seek peace is to live our lives in harmony with the original intentions of the Garden, because we carry its vocation with us.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
– Jeremiah 29:11