THE PLANS OF GOD - Part 1
The book of Jeremiah is a book that continues to fascinate me. In Jeremiah 1:4-5 God informs him that he was known by God while he was still in His mother’s womb and set apart for God’s service as a prophet even then. In verse 6, Jeremiah counters with his youth and inadequacy, but God responds in verse 7 with His purpose and will to be expressed through Jeremiah. When Jeremiah signed on for being a clear spokesman for God to the Jewish nation, I am sure he did not have in mind all the things that happened.
They were stubborn and would not listen. The false prophets in the land had predicted deliverance from their enemies while Jeremiah predicted defeat. Many were against him and even some in his own family put him in stocks and threw him down a well. As he prophesied the decline of their nation, the exile of their leaders, and the loss of freedom, it became a reality in 597 B.C. with the invasion of the Babylonian empire. On two occasions Jeremiah is reduced to tears as he sees the disobedience of his countrymen and in chapter 2:1 it crystallizes when God says “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you have loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.” The children of Israel in their youth as a nation had been devoted to God even through the desert both with Abraham and as they left slavery in Egypt behind and began to build their lives in the promised land of Israel. Time and again the people had forsaken God and this time the consequence was greater as they would become a displaced people conquered by a foreign power.
As we read through Jeremiah there are glimpses though of God’s redemptive nature and His desire for them to know His love. In Jeremiah 29, we come upon one of those glimpses. The scene is this; Jeremiah has been left behind, as in Jerusalem he represented no threat to the Babylonians. Only certain segments of society were taken, the royal family, the aristocrats, the cultural and political influencers , the youth, the artists and craftsmen. And in this setting, the city of Jerusalem is left desolate with few people to tend to it and a foreign power governing. Jeremiah, recognized as a prophet, decides to write a letter to those in exile. Here is an excerpt of what he says found in Jeremiah 29:4-7.
4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 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. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
If you and I had been exiled from our homeland what would we do, would we want to put down roots in the place we are forced to live in? I believe we would long for the day we could return, we would be critical and uncooperative, we would live with a hatred for our captors. Jeremiah says put down roots for now because further down the chapter this is what the letter says in verse 10.
This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.
God was promising the return to their homeland and following that, God says this through Jeremiah.
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to 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 will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
Three points are made in these verses and in two weeks time I will enlarge on those when I write the second part of this article.
By: Pastor David Jones