In Jeremiah 29, the prophet is writing a letter to the Jewish exiles in Babylon with words from the Lord about their situation. You see, God had placed his people in a very difficult situation. He literally gave power to King Nebuchadnezzar to conquer them and to carry them off to Babylon. In fact, He even told the Jews, through the Prophet Jeremiah, that they were going to be there for awhile – serving the King, then the King’s son and then his grandson (Jeremiah 27:4-7).
Many Christians know this chapter because of Jeremiah 29:11 where the Lord tells the Jews that He has plans for them – great plans – “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
I have long thought and prayed about this particular verse, and it has given me, and many others, much comfort. Through these words, I know that God is faithful to His people and that even with all of our current trouble and pain, we can trust that the Lord has a plan for us. God is good.
The thing is, while reading the entire chapter of Jeremiah 29 this morning, I discovered even more than that promise. I discovered a rich picture that God was painting through his Prophet for their time in exile. God was saying – don’t just endure, but flourish.
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.” – Jeremiah 29:4-7
What a beautiful picture – one filled with a home, family, children and love. God is telling His people – “Live a life worthy of Me” while you are in bondage in Babylon under the rule of another King. When I read this, my heart swelled, thinking not just of the future promise in verse 11, but of the promise of a good life while living through trouble.
But wait, there’s even more! Look at verse 7! God is not only saying that His people should make the best of their present situation, He is saying that they should use the situation to bring glory to Him by seeking the peace and prosperity of their captors! This seems like an early foreshadowing of Jesus’ final charge before he ascended to be with His Father.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
Amazing. What an incredible set of promises. God is not just promising He has “future” plans for us, but He is saying He has current plans for us – plans for today! He has plans that will include trouble, exile and deception, but that will also include this incredibly rich story of houses, gardens and family that we can receive every day with a next right step of prayer, love for the Lord and love for the people around us. Live the life that God has given you because it is beautiful.