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Do you know the plan? “What plan?” you might ask. My reply, “Whatever comes to mind when you hear the question.” For some the plan might be for their job, relationships, children, or financial goals. For Jeremiah, the plans were for the future and the well being of God’s people.
Jeremiah was a prophet and priest. A prophet is someone chosen by God to give God’s messages to His people. Jeremiah was young when he was called to be a prophet, which is interesting, because the reigning king in Jerusalem also started young – at age 8! That king was Josiah. He was the last godly king of Judah before the fall of Jerusalem and capture by Babylon. Jeremiah lived in a small town outside of Jerusalem. He knew the business, activities and ways of worship within the walls of Jerusalem, but was able to live outside the fray of the city. After Josiah died, Jerusalem became a city of turmoil – politically, socially, and morally. Can you relate today?
It was Jeremiah’s job to give God’s messages of warning to the people of Jerusalem, informing them of their sinful ways, calling for them to repent and turn their hearts back to God, and warning them that God would allow them to be taken by their enemies if they did not. Jeremiah was grieved, literally to tears, for the people of Jerusalem, for they would not turn from sinful ways and turn their hearts back to God. Eventually God’s punishment happened. Jeremiah watched as people from Jerusalem were taken by King Nebuchadnezzar and exiled to Babylon.
After the exile, Jerusalem fell to ruin and the temple was destroyed. This was very distressing for Jeremiah and the people of Jerusalem because the temple was more than a place of worship. It was the place where God’s physical presence resided among them.
Exiled to Babylon, the people of Judah felt like they’d been sent away from God’s presence. Then, when they heard the temple had been destroyed, they feared God would be gone from their lives forever. Once they thrived in Jerusalem, and now they were living as captives in a new place, under the rule of another king, away from the presence of God, and fearing He would never be with them or their children again.
God knew their despair; and even though He had sent them to Babylon as punishment for turning away from Him, God did not turn His back on them. He called on Jeremiah to prepare a letter for the exiled people of Jerusalem, addressing their fear for the future and their feelings that God had abandoned them. Following are the words of consolation that God gave Jeremiah to share:
Jeremiah 29:1-14 (ESV) Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles
29 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to… all the people… taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon… 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah… 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. 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. 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,[a] 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.
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[b] 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.”
(Text copied from http://www.BibleGateway.com)
God was telling the people of Jerusalem that even though they were in exile, He wanted them to seek “welfare”, meaning “well being.” Some Bible versions say “to prosper”, which in Greek and Aramaic, means to “have means and ability,” “thrive,” “have gain.” When God said “expected end,” He meant that He had plans for them to have a future of well being and hope, not harm or evil. God promised that, in time, He would bring them back to where they belonged. Most importantly, God was assuring the exiled people of Jerusalem that He had not abandoned them, and despite their sinful past, He had plans for them, and the plans for were for their good!
There’s an adage today that says: The best way to make God laugh is to have plans.
It’s good to have plans and goals, but ultimately, we need seek God’s plans for us, making our plans accordingly. However, even then, things can go wrong, and we can find ourselves in bad situations and tough places.
Have you ever found yourself in an uncertain place in your life, or a place you didn’t want to be? Maybe you were in a tough place because of your own actions, or maybe life happened in a bad way, leaving you to survive the consequences. Tough times might make us feel like the people of Judah – having to survive in a new way, feeling fear of the unknown, wondering if we still have a future. maybe even feeling hopeless. At times we might also feel as if we’ve been abandoned by God, or that we are undeserving of His love and help. Maybe you’re in that place right now. If so, please find comfort in God’s words!
The words above were given to Jeremiah to be shared with the suffering people of Jerusalem to give them comfort and hope, and those words of God still speak to us today!
In Jeremiah 29:1-14, God is saying: Live your life, and trust in Me. I know your situation. Don’t give up! I have plans for you! My plans are for your wellbeing, that you thrive and survive. At the right time, I will gather you to myself and restore your life. You will seek Me and find Me by your side. You will pray to Me, and I will hear. Let these promises give you hope for your future! (my paraphrased summary of 29:1-14)
What about you? Do you know the plan?
The truth is that we don’t know the plan, but we know the God who does! Praise be to God!
To read the Book of Jeremiah or learn more through commentaries, go to http://www.Biblegateway.com
Blessings to all,