['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. ¹²Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. ¹³You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. ¹⁴I will be found by you,' declares the LORD... —Jeremiah 29:11-14
Imagine yourself an exile who has just been ripped from your home and your country, forced by a conquering army to live in a foreign land among people of a very different culture who speak a different language. Imagine knowing that this happened as a judgment from God because you and your people have been unfaithful to Him.
Sounds discouraging, doesn’t it? It also brings questions to mind. How long will this last? Will the Lord ever get over being angry with us? Will we ever see our home again? Is there any hope?
Such was the case for the Judean exiles in Jeremiah 29. They had been conquered by the Babylonian army and forced to trek to Babylon and reside there. They weren't sure how to approach life in Babylon. Should they unpack their bags and settle in for the long haul, or get ready for a quick return to Judea? Is this judgment from God temporary or permanent?
God’s answer through His prophet Jeremiah is that the exile is temporary, lasting 70 years (29:10). That’s thirty-five times longer than some false prophets told the people (see Jeremiah 28), but it is still a temporary situation. God’s anger against His people is also temporary. Their discouragement and sense of despair under His hand of judgment is addressed by the Lord directly. He reveals that He has a definite plan for His people which is for their future welfare (29:11). His plan does involve returning from exile in Babylon after 70 years (29:10), but that is the heart of what God sees as the ultimate well-being, future, and hope for His people.
The welfare and hope to which God draws primary attention is His promise that there will come a time when He will hear the prayers of His people and when, in their searching for the Lord, He will be found (29:12-14). When will that take place? When they, by the sovereign mercy and grace of God, turn to Him and call upon Him, when they seek Him diligently and wholeheartedly. Then they will have true well-being, a real future, and certain hope—because they will have the Lord.
Yes, there will be a physical return to the land for the people, but even the final return will be a side-benefit of the ultimate, central promise—having the Lord as their portion, their hope, their all-in-all. Yes, there will be great prosperity for the people again, but that will be a side-benefit of the riches of finding the Lord. It is the Lord who is the ultimate portion and hope, something Jeremiah realized personally (Lamentations 3:24).
The same holds true today. The Lord loves to bless His people richly. He gives Himself, the supreme blessing, to those who call on Him and seek Him with their whole heart. Such are the plans of the Lord.
Do you view God as your supreme blessing and source of well-being?
How would seeing the Lord this way impact your daily life?
Ask God to help you to more fully, deeply, and intimately know and experience Him as your supreme blessing.