Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (NKJV). This verse is often used to encourage lost sinners to seek the Lord for salvation, but in this passage it is referring to God’s earthly people Israel. Let’s read verses 10-14 to get the full picture: “For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think of you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gathered you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”

When Jeremiah penned these words Israel had turned their backs on God and had given themselves over to idolatry. God had determined to judge His people and thus He allowed the Babylonians to invade Israel and to bring them into captivity. Here we see that God would limit this judgment to 70 years and then they would return to their land. Their time in Babylon would result in true self-judgment for their evil ways; they would come to hate idols and their hearts would long to return home and to be in sweet fellowship with their Lord once again. The prophet Daniel was a captive in Babylon and while there he learned, from this passage, that God would end their captivity after 70 years. Daniel 9:2-3 states, “In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel must have felt a huge sigh of relief, but he knew that his people must be prepared in their hearts to be restored to the Lord and to the land. God had said through Jeremiah, “you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen.” Daniel took God at His word and prayed one of the most heartfelt prayers of repentance in the entire Bible. We see this in verses 15-19. First he confesses his sins and the sins of his people, “And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a might hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—WE HAVE SINNED, WE HAVE DONE WICKEDLY” (verse 15). Having confessed their UNFAITHFULNESS, Daniel goes on in verses 16-19 to speak of God’s FAITHFULNESS to be merciful to His people. They read, “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because of our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for WE DO NOT PRESENT OUR SUPPLICATIONS BEFORE YOU BECAUSE OF OUR RIGHTEOUS DEEDS, BUT BECAUSE OF YOUR GREAT MERCIES. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” We know God heard Daniel’s prayer; He forgave His people; and He restored them to the land.

Am I writing to a believer who has drifted from the Lord? If so, may these scriptures encourage you to call upon the Lord in true repentance, confessing your sins and casting yourself on the mercy of God. The Lord has promised, “You will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” He will listen; He will forgive; He will restore! The apostle John echoed this same truth in 1st John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (235.5) (DO)