In 594 B.C., due to internal unrest within the nation of Babylon, vassal states would have been required to report to Nebuchadnezzar and reaffirm their loyalty. The same would have been true for Zedekiah, acting king of Judah, and along with that official correspondence, Jeremiah sent his own divine message to the exiles in Babylon.
The message from Jeremiah, of course, is really a message from “the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel” (v. 4) to those who had been taken captive in the first wave of exile. Scripture tells us that at that time a variety of false prophets were in Babylon predicting a very short exile. It was a message the people themselves wanted to hear. Yet it was not the message God had for them. Perhaps shocking to the exiles, Jeremiah’s letter instructed them to “Build houses and settle down . . . Marry and have sons and daughters . . . Increase in number there . . . Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile” (vv. 5–7). Instead of cursing the Babylonians, they were to pray for their peace and prosperity. In other words, their exile would extend over several generations, so they should settle in.
Even so, the second part of Jeremiah’s letter offered profound encouragement. After a specified period of time, their fate would change. Upon their repentance and whole-hearted seeking of the Lord, God would fulfill His promise to return them to the land. Although their current situation may have felt bleak and hopeless, God would not forget His long-term plans for them: “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (v. 11).
Apply the Word
Today’s reading offers a powerful reminder that despite the difficulty of our life circumstances, we can still trust that God is in control and has not forgotten His abundant, gracious, and hope-filled plans for us. Perhaps you know someone in your life who needs to be reminded of these promises. Take that message to them today.