Today you should read: Jeremiah 29
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the Babylonian Exile, second only to the Exodus, is the most significant event of the Old Testament. As we have seen in Jeremiah, God’s Covenant People were betraying the commands of God. Bad kings and worse prophets led the nation into spiritual ruin. Yet, God’s plans will not be thwarted
All the way back in Deuteronomy 28, God laid out his contingency plan for disobedience— ‘The people rebelled, by golly, they’ll reap what they’ve sown’ (not an official translation). If they don’t want God’s guiding hand in their lives, they won’t have His strong arm for protection. Multiple warnings were sent through the prophets and all were ignored.
In today’s passage, we find Jeremiah in Jerusalem during the Exile. He sent letters to those in Exile with somewhat surprising messages. In verses 5–6, we see an encouragement to continue with life, marriage, and family. Verse 7, even more surprising, the great prophet encourages God’s people to pray for Babylon and seek its welfare.
Jeremiah’s letters contain much about the falsity of the contemporary prophets. One of the primary messages they gave was that the Exile would be over very soon. We’ve seen this in previous chapters. They were declaring a short return from Exile. Jeremiah reiterates the timeframe previously given in chapter 25—”When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.” The point? The Exile would last for a long time.
Make no mistake, God orchestrated these events. Notice the 5 times God says, “I sent,” in our passage. Ultimately, the Exile was to bring about good. Read these words, reminiscent of Deuteronomy 30; “ For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’
These words were partially fulfilled at the end of Exile, they will be eternally fulfilled when Christ, who suffered the shame of the cross, returns to reclaim what is His—exiles.
Two things we should learn: First, the time in which we live as the Church is similar to that of the Babylonian Exile. This world is not our home, we are strangers and aliens in a far off and distant land (1 Peter 2:11–12; Phil 3:20; Eph 2:19; Heb 11:13). God will regather His people for eternity.
Second, one of the striking things about this time period is the fact that ancient warfare was interpreted theologically. If a nation wins or loses, it’s because that nation’s god was stronger or weaker than their opponent. So, when Babylon crushed Jerusalem, the name of Yahweh was defamed. Herein lies a great truth—God is willing to suffer shame in order that people might turn their hearts to Him (see also Hebrews 12:2). The Creator suffered ridicule from creation. That’s how much God loves humanity. When we’re tempted to question His character, we can remember His selflessness in taking our shame.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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