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  • Jim Odens

The Supreme Welfare (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

'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. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I 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 don’t know 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 seventy 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 as He reveals that He has a definite, certain plan for His people which is for their future welfare (29:11). That plan involves a return from exile in Babylon after seventy years (29:10), but this is not at the heart of what God sees as the ultimate wellbeing, 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, by the sovereign mercy and grace of God, they 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 issue—having the Lord as one’s portion, one’s hope, one’s all-in-all. Yes, there will someday 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 one’s ultimate portion and hope, as Jeremiah himself realized personally (Lamentations 3:24).

The same holds true today. The Lord loves to bless richly, with Himself as the supreme blessing. Therefore, it is only those who call upon Him, seeking Him wholeheartedly, to whom He gives this blessing.


For Reflection

  1. Is my relationship with the Lord such that I truly view Him as my supreme blessing and well-being?

  2. How does seeing the Lord as my supreme blessing and well-being impact my daily life?

  3. How can I strive to more fully, deeply, and intimately know and experience the Lord as my supreme blessing?


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