Letter to the Exiles

jeremiah29_11“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

For years the prophet Jeremiah pleaded with Judah to repent and turn back to the Lord. His words fell on deaf ears. The Babylonians laid siege to the tiny nation. Judah fell. A few poor Jews were left in the land as caretakers. Others would flee to Egypt, despite the Lord’s command not to go there. They eventually perished in Egypt. The remainder were carried away captive to Babylon.

Sometime later Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon. It contained the Lord God’s instructions as to how they were to conduct themselves in captivity. Would their deaf ears listen now? The Lord told them to build houses, to plant and harvest, to have families and increase in number. He said to seek peace in Babylon, not trouble. He reminded them to ignore the false prophets among them for they did not speak for Him. Then the Lord said, “After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.” (v.10)

Readers of scripture must be contextually mindful that the letter to the exiles was for the Jews in a specific time and place. But, can we not clutch verse 11 to our own hearts? For therein we find yet again, the mind and the heart of our God. And this verse stands amongst the greatest in scripture for beckoning exiles homeward. It certainly had a sledgehammer effect on this exile at first reading. Thank God!

The verses that follow show forth a burgeoning relationship with the Lord. “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” (v.12) The former exile calls and prays – God listens. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (v.13) The former exile has no division in the heart, but intently pursues God. “I will be found by you, says the Lord, and will bring you back from your captivity.” (v.14a) Redeemed. Regenerated. Reconciled. Restored. Thank God!

Seventy years later, just as He promised, the Lord God brought the Jewish people in Babylon back to Judah and Jerusalem. He had a future and a hope for the exiles. Through them, the march to the fullness of time went on with the eventual coming of YESHUA HAMASHIACH. Jesus the Christ came and declared of Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

The Lord God has a peace that passes all understanding for us, a future for us, and a hope for us. Come home, from wherever you are, and receive all that He has promised.

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