Let’s start by reading Jeremiah 29:1, “Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were CARRIED AWAY CAPTIVES, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.”  This shows us that this is written to the people of God who were in captivity in Babylon.  Why were they in captivity?  Let’s read verse 4, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I HAVE CAUSED to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon.”  It was the Lord who had caused His people to be taken captive by their enemy, because of their own rebellion and sinfulness.  YET, the Lord writes to His people in the midst of their suffering to encourage them.  He instructs them to:

  • BE PREPARED FOR A LONG STAY. Verses 5-6, “Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.”
  • REBEL NOT AGAINST THEIR SITUATION. Verse 7, “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”
  • BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS. Verses 8-9, “For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.”

These prophets may have been telling the people that the Lord would ‘cut short’ their captivity, but they were not sent from the Lord with that message.  The Lord assured them in verse 10, “For thus saith the LORD, That AFTER SEVENTY YEARS be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.”  The Lord had determined the length of their captivity and that was not going to change.

Yet, in spite of all this, the Lord assures His people of His love and His intent for them.  We read in verses 11-13, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”  The Lord loved His people and His desire was for their good.  They had rebelled and chastening had become necessary.  We learn in Hebrews 12:6, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”  Hebrews 12:11 tells us, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”  The Lord chastened His people because of His love for them.  He lovingly awaited the time that they would call upon Him, confess their sins to Him, and search for Him once again.  He knew that this time in Babylon, in captivity for seventy years, was what they needed to cause them to turn back to Him.

So for any of us who may be going through a period of chastening from the Lord, let’s learn a valuable lesson from this portion.  BE PREPARED to endure this chastening because it will bring benefit in the end.  DO NOT REBEL against the loving hand of God, even though it brings us through hardships.  DO NOT LISTEN to those who would try to tell us that God does not punish His own or that it is NEVER proper for a believer to suffer, even as a consequence of his own actions.  But keep in mind that it is the Lord who loves us best and knows what is best for us.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  (223.2)