SETTLE AND SEEK
“I need Thee; every hour I need Thee. Oh, bless me now, my Savior! I come to Thee” (Robert Lowry, 1826–1899).
Read Jeremiah 29:1–14
A Letter to the Exiles
29 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:
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.” 8 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. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
10 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. 11 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 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.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIn unsettled times, how might we seek the Lord?
Sometimes things go wrong: an accident, friends becoming ill, unrest in your part of the world… you might even need to go into exile to survive. In this life, difficult things happen. Where is God in those moments?
The prophecies had been fulfilled (1) and most of the Israelites found themselves living in a foreign land. What now? Many of them wouldn’t see Jerusalem again (10). Jeremiah’s letter from home brought encouraging words: settle down, work hard… enjoy life (5,6). Pray for the peace and prosperity of the place where you are living (7).
But, stay on your guard against the words of those who would deceive you (8,9). And then, there is the famous promise of God’s plans for his people (11). They would need to wait for a while, living faithfully through this time of exile.
What are these troubled times about? Yes, it was God’s judgment on the leaders’ disobedience (25:8–11). But what about the ordinary people who had had their lives disrupted and future hopes left in ruins? Here is the prompt to turn to God, to pray and seek him. God promises, he will be found (14).
What is God saying to you about your circumstances? Be at peace? Pray for your neighbors? Wait? Seek God with all your heart? Trust him for the future? Write it down—then do it.
Let Jeremiah’s words prompt prayer for yourself and others now.