1-4 The Predicament
Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive—to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:
Jeremiah writes to those taken into captivity. Life has been interrupted. The situation is definitely not ideal.
The ultimate reason for captivity is stupidity. Sin is not doing what God says therefore, sin is stupid, foolish.
In social media the abbreviation, HMB, which means, “Hold My Beer” precedes someone doing something immediately dangerous, like climbing out of their car and riding on the hood while it is going 60mph. This is usually with another person capturing the ‘reasonable’ stunt on film.
The same is true for Christians—HMB (Hold My Bible) while I live without it; as if that were possible.
But God is ever gracious.
Where sin abounds—Grace, so much more!
Even now the captives receive a letter of hope from the prophet.
5-6 Out of Place?
Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.
“Live your lives as if you were back in your own country”, is the message from God.
“…on earth as it is in heaven” is operative wherever you are—where ever God puts you. Live the Ideal wherever you are and during whatever is going on.
God is bigger than the difficulty.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find “Plan B”.
There are no allowances. There are no situations where God ever deviates from calling us to live by His words. Are you handicapped? Is there an alien invasion? Has a plague spread? Did you just receive a vast inheritance? Are you the 1st round draft pick? Are you struggling with addiction? Are you where you want to be?
Remember: When Jesus, Peter, & Paul were instructing the Church, the Church was in captivity, under laws that did not coincide with the Bible, they lived among pagans, and they were also surrounded by well respected churches that did not follow the truth.
7 You Gotta Pray
And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.
Our lives are to follow our prayers. We pray for all the biblical connotations of what ‘Peace’ means for the city that we are in—and we live that way of peace through witnessing the gospel through our lips and our lives.
This is a huge problem for us; a sin, really. We don’t think about the city we live in.
Caught up in our own lives we tend to forget our existence is based upon a premise that originated when God chose Abraham and told him, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”.
The apostle Paul instructed: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
8-9 The Perennial Problem
For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord.
Combatting the will of God for the captives was the message of the false prophets. That is always the problem when it comes to listening to what God tells us—those other voices competing for our attention.
You can basically read the entire Bible and see this happening every time.
- God/Satan in Genesis (and in Job)
- Wisdom/Harlot in Proverbs
- Jesus/Pharisees in the Gospels
- Jeremiah/False Prophets
- You trying to live for the Lord/Your own heart
You & I are always listening to someone—ALWAYS
God knows that and that is why this passage is so precious—God is intervening again; repeating Himself again. He does not operate on the premise: “I told you once.”
10-11 The Promise
For thus says the Lord: 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. 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.
God never changes.
Restoration is always the plan of God—Eden was the start, the new Jerusalem is the end. The up and downs of life are characterized by this. Measured, not just in decades, but sometimes in years, months, weeks, days, moments…
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.
The Future is always ahead of us.
The issue is not, How faithful have you been? The important question is, How faithful will you be today?
12-14 Your All
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
“…all your heart”
That is intended to bring to mind, The Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
That’s the point, isn’t it? The point of our redemption is to be with God. To have a relationship with Him. To delight in His presence.
This would also be the point of departure—leaving that great and precious relationship through sin and rebellion and then ending up chastened and in captivity.
But this is also, always, the point of return—seeking God’s face.
Can He be found? Will He be found?
He isn’t the one running and hiding.
He is the one that had Jeremiah write this letter. He is the One who seeks us out.
Is there any proof that God is gracious and ever desiring His people to be with Him?
Well, He did set a table for us to have communion with Him every Lord’s Day