From Jeremiah 26-29
The ongoing judgement’s have slowed down a bit and Jeremiah is involved in some confrontations with the rulers and false prophets. Predictably those who oppose Jeremiah lose.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comment
Unfortunately one of the LORD’s prophets is killed (Jer 26.23). Afterwards Judah is sent into exile and Jeremiah writes this letter to encourage the people who have been deported.
29 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said:
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. (Jer 29:1–6)
Jeremiah is encouraging the people to settle down. To multiply and increase. After being exiled you would expect they would want to return and claim their land. Jeremiah says otherwise. Life will be different for the hebrews in this new land. No temple. A foreign people. Will they be faithful to the LORD. Their track record isn’t so good. Have they learnt their lesson?
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. (Jer 29:7)
Now this is an unusual request. Seeking the welfare of the people who defeated them and sent them into exile. This is what they are meant to do. Strangers in a foreign land amongst foreign people. They are to seek their welfare. That’s what God’s people should do for the peoples around them.
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. (Jer 29:8-9)
A repeat of the warnings about listening to false prophets.
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. 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. (Jer 29:10–14)
This is an encouraging thing to say to the people after what they have been through. The LORD hasn’t entirely given up on them. The LORD has plans for their welfare. To give them a future and a hope. There will be a people the LORD will draw to himself who will seek and find him. The LORD promises to bring them back.
Story of Israel
And he does. The LORD is faithful to his promises. They return to their land. But they still remain in slavery. Under the rule of a foreign nation.
Story of Jesus
After Jesus died and rose from the dead. The telling of that story created a renewed people. In a sense they experienced a new deliverance from slavery (this time from sin), or perhaps a new return from exile. Paul echoes a similar promise for these people. For those who believe Jesus is the risen Christ.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)
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