HOPE AND FORGIVENESS
Read: Jeremiah 29:4-14
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.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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 on 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.[a] 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.” (NIV Jeremiah 29:4-14)
Study: Babylon took many Hebrews into exile in 597 B.C., and then destroyed Jerusalem in a final conquest in 586 B.C. Before that final destruction, the prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter to the Hebrews who had already gone to Babylon. He offered them no false comfort–they should “settle down” for a long period of exile. But even exiled in that foreign land, they could trust that God’s long-term plans for their nation were good. Some “prophets” were telling the Israelites that God would send them back to Israel within two years (see Jeremiah 28:1-14). If you had been an exile, wouldn’t you have wanted that to be true, rather than Jeremiah’s “wait, and be a good neighbor” message? Have you ever been disappointed with God’s timing? How do you maintain patience and hope if things aren’t working out as you’d wish, when you wish?
Pray: Lord Jesus, teach me patience and endurance when life is hard. Plant in me the hunger and thirst to seek you with all my heart, to let you shape every aspect of the way I live my life. Amen.