Occasionally I will be dwelling on a verse or passage, ruminating on the message, (or to be honest, wandering off into some undisciplined daydreaming), and the Lord will bless me with a truth that is so obvious, so fresh and such a blessing that I just want to share it with you.
This passage was not such an occurrence. Jeremiah 29 was being discussed in Sunday School last week and the discussion brought to mind the importance of the context of the verse. First, lets consider the verse and then I will try to explain my thoughts.
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.
How often have you been surfing the net, checking out facebook or simply listening to a sermon and this verse pops up. The message of the speaker implying, (or out rightly stating) that the Lord has a prosperous and “best life” for you right now! The modern message assures us that the Lord has plans for peace and to give us a future and a hope, implying riches, security and blessing in the present.
Let’s consider the context of this precious promise, for you see, if we dig a bit we find that the promise is much more than simply satisfying our present wants and relieving our current fears.
This message was to a group of Jews that were no longer residing in the beloved city of David. They had been carried away in the captivity to the city of Babylon, under the obvious displeasure of the Lord, per Deuteronomy 29:28. The nation had been rooted out of the land and the current generation residing in Babylon was being spoken to in Jeremiah 29.
Lets read the immediate context of Jeremiah 29:11
10 – “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.
11 – 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.
When 70 years are completed in Babylon? What? No immediate gratification? Verse 10 speaks of the duration this people of Israel will have to reside in Babylon.
The Lord has plans for this nation, and it includes captivity for 70 years! The plans spoken of include a wait of 70 years until the Lord visits them and directs them to return to the city of David and the Promised Land, (which in it self is an act of mercy!). Many of the Jewish population would die in a foreign land, with the second generation returning to a decimated land and city they had never seen.
A bit larger context may be beneficial, so lets consider a few verses previous.
4 – “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5 – Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.
6 – Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.
7 – But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
The Lord is informing the Jewish remnant, those who trust in His Words, to settle in Babylon, the nation that destroyed them, to raise families and to seek the welfare of the captors city. To pray to the LORD on it’s behalf! (How very New Testamental!)
In the midst of this tremendous passage though, the LORD gives a warning.
8 – For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,
9 – for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.
In the city of Babylon, certain men, even Jewish “prophets” had risen up to declare that the captivity would be short lived and the Jew’s would be returning to their homeland soon. The message was intoxicating – “Don’t settle, for you are heading back. This captivity, this suffering will not continue.”
Sound familiar to a message that is popular nowadays?
Those who read this blog must understand that the false gospel of prosperity is a virulent pervasive and deadly message that perverts the loving care of the Lord Almighty, that exchanges the eternal for the here and now, and true riches that should be exchanged for temporal junk.
Sometimes I fear the message is so prevalent, the the culture is fully drunk on the venom.
Let the message of verse 8 ring in your ears.
Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream
The following verses address the desired outcome of the captivity, the joining together of the nation with God in determining their future. (Consider 1 Corinthians 3:9). Note verse 13 & 14, and the conditional finding of God prior to restoration. When you seek Him with all your heart. Then He will be found by you, and then the people will return to the Promised Land.
12 – Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
13 – You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
14 – I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Amazing cooperation of the Lord Almighty with the will of man, and the invitation by the Holy One to a rebellious people, to again enter into a life of faith with the Living God. We have such a good and loving God, One who is not to be compared with any!
Praise the Father of light, Who has given His own Son for our redemption, salvation and continual blessing, even in the midst of occasional trials.
In conclusion, the Jews in Babylon received a message from Jeremiah, the true prophet of God in Jerusalem, a message of required endurance, and of a future that would be secured for them. A return to the promised land that, though generations away, was secured for the nation by the Word of God.
Individual Jews were also given direction, that is to settle in the land of their enemies, to seek their enemies good and to rest in the promise of God.
This passage from Jeremiah to the Jews in Babylon was to have an intended effect. That effect was to see the Jews seek God (and not conditions of ease) with their whole heart. The Jews were warned NOT to rely on empty promises from false prophets, promising a return to normal peaceful living in security and wealth.
Be at peace with your current situation, even if difficult. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, and the Lord provides an escape, of course take it.
If no escape, endurance is called for. Seek Him with all your heart, and depend on the promises of God.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.