There is a whole lot more to Jeremiah 29:11 than it meets the eye! God used Jeremiah to speak to the Israelites about His plans for them, which required their obedience. However, the false prophets sought to be popular by giving false and flattering prophesies that appealed to people’s desires.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 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. 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.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to 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 will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:4-14
The Israelites were in exile. The Lord had already spoken through Daniel that Israel’s captivity in Babylon was going to last seventy years. However, the false prophets and the diviners were speaking false prophecies about the soon return of Israelites back to the their homeland. That’s what people wished for, so their prophets prophesied what their itching ears wanted to hear.
Jeremiah, as the true prophet of God, admonished and encouraged the people of God with truth. He told them that God wanted to give them a hope and a future. Part of the process was for them to remain in captivity for seventy years, but this was not to harm them. They were going to return to Him when they sought Him. The captivity in Babylon was a punishment and a discipline in the process of returning them back to the Lord.
As Christians, we live in a world that is in bondage. The scripture calls us “sojourners” in this world (See 1Peter 2:11-12). This world is not all that there is for a believer. We are in exile until such a time that Jesus comes back and establishes His Kingdom on the earth. In the meantime, the Lord wants His people to live their lives with that awareness while at the same time seeking Him they live their ordinary lives.
The Israelites were God’s special people. Hence, they did not think that God would allow them to remain in exile for very long. This encouraged the false prophets to tell them what they wanted to hear. Listening to the false prophets, would have caused the Israelites ignore the very blessings God wanted to give them. The seventy year captivity was God’s process to discipline and disciple them.
God’s plans will be accomplished God’s way. The hope and the future that He has for His people is conditional based on their obedience. There are no short-cuts in the Kingdom of God. The best short-cut is listening to His instructions and to obey His voice.
Similarly, some of the things we don’t like in our lives could be part of God’s process in our lives. Some people feel stuck. Others feel like that can’t wait until they experience some sort of a change. The problem is that when people want something badly enough, they will surround themselves with individuals who will tell them what they want to hear. This can eventually derail people from God’s plan and will abort God’s process.
Are you in undesirable circumstances? Is this part of God’s process for you? How are you handling it? Whom are you surrounded by? Do you expect people to always agree with you or be excited about your plans? Do you have truth tellers in your life who will tell you what you do not want to hear?
I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.