GOD’S PLAN to give us HOPE and a BETTER FUTURE: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer 29:11)
In 597 B.C., the Babylonians began to deport the Jews to Babylon. To those who were deported, Jeremiah sent a letter in which he told them to prepare for a long stay in Babylon. Instead of hoping for Babylon’s quick destruction, they were to seek its peace and prosperity. The Lord would restore the exiles only when the seventy years of judgment that He had announced were completed (Jer 25:11–12).
In the above key verse, we can understand that God places considerable emphasis on His unchangeable plan to bring peace and not evil in our lives. He wishes to give us hope and provide us with a better future. Even though Judah was in captivity, God has not terminated His relationship with His people. God remembers His covenant promises of restoration that He had promised in Deut. 30:1–10.
In his exposition of Jer 29:10–14 in ‘Preaching’, Yates makes the following observation: "God’s Word to His people in the day of Jeremiah is still His sure word for men who have sinned and lost touch with the Infinite. He is always available. His longing is that all men may look to Him and live. His arms are always open in loving invitation to any who will turn to Him. Cleansing, peace, joy, victory will be his at the hand of a loving God who delights to welcome His children home."
According to the Bible scholar Warren Wiersbe, Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles helps us understand how we can make the best of a difficult situation:
- Accept it. We should live as normal a life as we can and put up with inconveniences without complaining. We should try to be a blessing to others, and be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker.
- Be patient. God has the timing all worked out, and His plans never fail. He knows how long and how much.
- Trust God. Verse 11 is a powerful promise to claim when we are “in exile”. God thinks about us personally and is planning for us. His plans are for peace, so we need not fear the future. His plans are purposeful, so we should let Him work out His will. No matter how difficult our situation may be, we should not waste our suffering by resisting God.
- Avoid false hopes. It is human to indulge in false hopes and grasp at every straw, but this approach leads to despair. We should avoid the subtle voices of the false teachers with their false hopes. The Word of God will tell us what to do.