God Never Forgets His People

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Restoration

Jeremiah writes a letter to all the priests, prophets and people that Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon (vv. 1-2). The setting is probably after the fall of Judah in 597 b.c., following the deportation of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin). The couriers were from priestly families connected with the reform of Josiah (v. 3). It is possible that Gemariah was the son of Hilkiah, the famous priest of Josiah’s day. God’s word to the exiles was to prepare for a long stay in Babylon (vv. 4-9). They were to build houses and settle down. They were also to plant gardens to sustain them during the period. Life was to go on as normal. The people were exhorted to marry and have sons and daughters. The Lord admonishes His people to submit humbly to His will, making Babylon their home, honoring its government, praying God’s blessings even upon this foreign land in order that they might share in these blessings (v. 7). Another warning is given concerning the false prophets who would create false hope in an early return to Judah (v. 8).

These people-pleasers preached only what the people wanted to hear. This is the promise of the 70 years’ duration of captivity read by Daniel the prophet (vv. 10-14) (Dan. 9:10). These words renew God’s covenant (cf. Deut. 4:29, 30). In exile, the people will seek restoration to God, and God will then restore them to the land, renewing the covenant relationship in His eternal faithfulness (v. 12). Finding God is the blessing and joy of restoration (v, 13). The “king” is Zedekiah (v. 16) (597-586 b.c.).

Application

God never forgot His people even when they were captive in Babylon. I can be sure as I get older that He will never forget me regardless of the circumstances.

Jeremiah 29:1-14 (English Standard Version)

These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said: "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. "For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear 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 I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."

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