(Today's postby Keith Senator)
Jeremiah 29 – A Letter to the Exiles
I am always curious about how God works. From what I see it is always like chess where he is thinking several moves ahead of the other guy. As an example, I am looking at Jeremiah 29, and see the people of God in Exile and what the instruction looks like to them. God takes them away from their home, has them live in a different place for 70 years, marry each other, raise food from gardens for nourishment, and multiply. Then he promises that after 70 years, he will bring them back to their homeland. It is at this place where we see the familiar verse, “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.”
I must say when I read that verse in context, it meant so much more than on its own. Seeing it is conditional. It seems that it required them to obey as a people for 70 years in order for God to fulfill his part.
In the later part of the chapter he says what will happen to people who are false teachers and come in the name of God as his mouthpiece, who were never sent and are not of God. In this case, Shemaih the Nehelamite, will be punished and all of his descendants. “He will have no people, nor will he see the good things I will do for my people, declares the Lord, because he has preached rebellion against me.”
Why the 70 years? This will be several generations. They will have no recollection of their former home. It will be only stories from the few. I always look to see why God chooses to approach things this way.
It seems like God uses the frail, weak, and disobedient people, shapes them changes them, molds them into what he wants, and even through their sinful beginning, God can bring glory to himself through it. In this case, those who are to go back into the land 70 years later, if they obey, will be given a fresh start.
Today, I am drawn to look at my life. I am looking to see if I am in captivity, in exile. Am I in a place of repair? Am I being changed, gaining character to inhabit a land that is being prepared for me? Am I listening to false teachers and those who teach against the real true God? Or will I be obedient, follow God’s instruction and be led to what God has prepared for me and my descendants.
Food for thought. It is interesting because I think we look at our lives in a very moment to moment or a daily scope. We do not see how our decisions actually effect the generations after us. But reading the Bible, and looking at those who came before us, we can see that others had the same problems. It is part of the human condition, we disobey God. We do this because we do not stay close to him. And converse to our culture, there is no self help book that aids in your rebellion to do it alone, there is only dependency on God.
After you spend a long time with God and following his ways, you start to change, you gain character. You are not instantly changed. It requires time, and in the case of the people of God in exile, a long time. If you had to wait for 70 years to be assured you were following God’s plan would you stay on the path? I fear all of us would be challenged beyond belief.