A Message of Hope ~ Part II
“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. 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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
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.”
Sent into exile, thousands of miles from home, captives in a foreign land, and separated from the God of their fathers. The Israelite exiles in Babylon had every reason to feel discouraged, lost, and broken. Even though this was because of their own sin, they probably felt far away and distant from God and rejected by Him.
However, God still loved them and sent them a letter and message of hope. In the midst of His discipline and just anger, the LORD did not forsake His people, but reminded them of His love, sovereignty, and faithfulness. Truly, no matter what season of life you find yourself in, this is a great passage full of promises to take hold of. So let’s break it down and see what we learn from this timeless letter to the captive Israelites.
“When seventy years are completed…”
God gave them the exact number of years they would be in exile. How often are we privileged to that information? But for the exiled Israelites God revealed that information. Why? Why did God share that information in this particular circumstance? I believe He told the Israelites the exact number in order to reveal His sovereignty and power.
He wanted them to know that He was in complete control. It wasn’t the Babylonians who conquered and subdued Israel, but God. And in His perfect time, He would bring them out from captivity. But until then, they have seventy years to learn, watch, remember, and wait for the God of their fathers. It was a time for them to reflect upon where they had gone astray, to learn from their mistakes, and to turn back to the LORD.
So what about you? Are you in a season of life where you’re waiting on God to act? Are you willing to trust the God who promised the deliverance of His people after seventy years and fulfilled His promise in extraordinary ways? How are you going to use your season of waiting?
“For I know the plans I have for you…”
As a stand alone verse, this is such an easy one to remember when things are going good, all’s right in the world, and life is going as planned. However, within the context of the entire chapter, we find deeper meaning. This promise wasn’t given during the wonderful and great moments in Israel’s history, but when they were at their lowest, when they had completely rejected and forsaken their God and had been taken into captivity. It was a promise given to a broken people in a broken season. It was God giving hope and love in the midst of His discipline and judgment.
So go back and reread this verse through the lens of all that we’ve learned in Jeremiah. Does it have deeper significance now? Will you remember this promise not only when life is good but also in the difficult times, when all seems lost and broken? Will you hold on to it when you don’t know what is going on and don’t think you can make it another day?
“You will seek me and find me…”
After reading verse eleven, we always wonder what God’s good plan and future for our lives is. While I can’t specifically answer that question for you, I can tell you that the main answer is found in verse twelve—that we will seek Him and find Him, that we will call upon Him and pray to Him and He will listen. This is what God wants, what His main purpose and future of hope for our lives is—that we may have a personal relationship with the Lord of glory.
But notice that a relationship with God must start with us. We have to seek Him. And this seeking is not merely a half-hearted keep an eye out, but a sincere seeking with our whole heart. Half-hearted efforts don’t work in God’s kingdom. He wants all of us! And if we diligently seek Him with our whole heart, we will find Him.
“I will be found by you…”
I love this promise! God is not hiding, hoping that we won’t bother Him. Seeking Him is not a game of hide-and-go-seek. God wants to be found by us, and He’s waiting patiently for us to simply seek Him. He wants to start a personal relationship with us; however, the ball is in our court.
Therefore, do you want a personal relationship with the Maker of the universe? Have you found the Lord? Are you looking for Him? Is it a half-hearted effort or are you all in?
“I will restore your fortunes…and I will bring you back…”
Israel and Judah had wandered so far away that God was stirred into just and righteous anger over their idolatry, unfaithfulness, and sin. However, in the midst of His anger and discipline, He still loved His chosen people as evidenced by this letter of hope. So even though the Israelites had a long road of exile ahead of them, God gave them this promise and reassured them that He would restore their fortunes and bring them back to their promised inheritance. What a faithful and merciful God we serve!
Likewise, even when we’ve wandered far from the Lord and are experiencing His discipline and correction, we always have reason to hope. God chastens those He loves and is constantly working in our lives to make us better people. So even if you’re feeling the unpleasantness of God’s discipline, remember that God still loves you and plans on making you more like Him, and that the purpose and plan for this season is to bring you back and restore pure relationship and fellowship with Him.
As grafted in children of the living God, Israel’s future is our future, and Israel’s hope is our hope. So as we close this mini-series, let us take to heart the warnings, reprimands, and promises within Jeremiah, and always remember that God’s discipline is for our good and that He has great and marvelous plans for our lives. And may we never forget that God wants our whole heart and is more concerned about our relationship with Him rather than our deeds for Him.
“Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.”
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