Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 20-31
“Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?” says the Lord. “I often have to punish him, but I still love him. That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him. Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again…” – Jeremiah 31:20-21
I think these verses sum up well the prophecies of the book of Jeremiah. Because He loves, he punishes. Because He is our Father, he longs for us to respond to punishment so He can have mercy on us. He wants us to find our way back to Him.
Jeremiah is a difficult book to read. It’s hard to hear chapter after chapter of the painful consequences God’s people suffered due to their sin and unfaithfulness. But there are several chapters here in the middle of Jeremiah that speak strongly of God’s love and His mercy – of HOPE FOR THE FUTURE of God’s people.
“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” – Jeremiah 29:11
This is one of my favorite verses – one of my life verses. When we take this verse and study the context of the time in which it was originally spoken, it does not take away from its meaning but rather enhances how we can apply this verse to our lives.
God’s people have been unfaithful generation after generation, and He has handed them over to the King of Babylon as a consequence of their sin. After bringing them into the promised land of Canaan, after 40 years of wandering in the desert and then dwelling among them in the beautiful temple Solomon built, God is taking away His gift and sending them into exile for a period of 70 years as a punishment for their sins. That is a long time. That would be like someone returning today after being exiled in 1946.
At the time this letter in Chapter 29 is being written, the attack on Judah and Jerusalem has been going on for years. Thousands of the Israelites have already been captured and exiled to Babylon while Jeremiah is imprisoned in the heart of Jerusalem while the attack on the city continues. After years of proclaiming the MESSAGE of PAINFUL CONSEQUENCES, now God has a MESSAGE of HOPE for His people. God wants them to know He loves them and that their time of pain and suffering will not last forever – that He has a plan to bring them back, a plan to bless their lives once again.
Let’s read through these verses of hope and allow God to speak to our hearts. To get the full message, I encourage you to read through Jeremiah 29-31. I have pulled a few verses and phrases that speak to my heart. I pray that as you read them the Spirit will fill you with today’s message God has for you.
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce…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…”
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity…” – Jeremiah 29:5,7,10-14a, NIV
“I will restore…For I will bring you home again…For I am with you and will save you…I will give you back your health and heal your wounds…There will be joy and songs of thanksgiving and I will multiply my people, not diminish them…You will be my people and I will be your God” – Jeremiah 30:3,10,11,17,19,22, NLT
I love this part! Even in the midst of suffering, God promises His people that they will find blessings:
“Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel…I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will be happy again and dance merrily with your tambourines…Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care….The Lord, who scattered his people, will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock…Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone…I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing…Do not weep any longer…There is hope for your future,” says the Lord…”For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing” (Jeremiah 31:2-4,9-10, 12-13, 16-17, 25, NLT).
THERE IS HOPE FOR YOUR FUTURE. This is the message that we speak to the men and women who come to the Pregnancy Resource Center. It is a message for those who have walked away from God’s perfect plan and are wondering what comes next. There are often natural consequences to our sin, to a life of doing what we want to do instead of following God’s plan for our lives. But God’s plan does not go away! When we seek Him with our whole hearts, we will find Him! Even in the midst of suffering the results of our sin, God will be with us and we will see His blessings in our lives. He will restore us and bring us joy. He has a plan.
It’s time to stop resisting God’s plan for our lives. If you seek Him, He will be found and there will be HOPE for your future.
Lord, I thank you for the hope you give us even in the darkest of situations. I thank you for your love for us that is revealed when you restore and renew us. Thank you for being the God who gives rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing. Help us to trust you and find hope for our future. Amen.