This passage from the book of Jeremiah is like a metaphor for the Christian life. The lord is encouraging us to make to best of whatever our situation may be. We are not to let ourselves and our lives dwindle in the face of the oppression or perceived captivity of this life. On the contrary, we are to get on with the business of living. The Lord wants us to have families and set up homes. It is not our personal circumstances that matter, it is our prayers and our faithfulness that will make the difference to God. When we look for the Lord, there he will be, he will be found and he will gather us to him. Even the period of time that God has determined for the exile is significant – 70 years – three score years and ten. This is traditionally the human life span. As Christians, although we know that our lives on earth are, in effect lived in exile from our true home with Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven, we have the hope of an eternal, heavenly future, and that the Lord will hear us when we cry out to him and seek his face with our whole hearts.
Jeremiah 29:4-14 NLT
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
I have lived half of my time in exile already. But only in the last few years have I been looking wholeheartedly for the Lord. And yet, in that short time, he has more than honoured his promise to be found. He has wrapped me up in his presence and given me comfort beyond my deepest hopes. All my confidence has been restored and he has shared his wisdom with me as well. My goal is to keep on searching ever more deeply for the Lord so that I might make the most of the plans he already knows he has for me. I want to be ready for the future he has in store for me.
Jeremiah 28:1-29:32, 1 Timothy 1:1-20, Psalms 86:1-17, Proverbs 25:17