Because everything else the Lord used to turn them around had failed, the people of Judah were plucked out of their land and were forced to endure a seventy-year exile in Babylon. But even this drastic turn of events was done in the context of God’s love. It was an intervention of sorts, a means to save them from the destructive and deadly path they were headed down.
Although transplanted from their land, the Lord kept a watchful eye over His people. He spoke to them through a letter by the prophet Jeremiah, encouraging them to resume normal lives and even to pray for and support their Babylonian captors.
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:4-7 NIV
How many of us find ourselves in a place or situation that we did not choose or do not wish to be? While every situation is different, it is possible that the Lord has chosen this one for us, and that long-term, it will turn out to be the best place for us to live.
A friend of mine is currently in a home for those who are unable to take care of their own needs. It is not a place where one would normally choose to be, but she finally said the other day, “I now know that I am exactly where God wants me.”
She has accepted God’s will for her life at this moment in time and understands the importance of her current role. She finds herself reading to those unable to do so, giving comfort and companionship to those around her who feel anxious, lonely, or upset, and is a positive influence for her neighbors as well for the staff. At the same time, God provides her with several visitors who are able to take her out of the facility for shopping or to have a restaurant meal or a cup of coffee together.
God never forgets us or abandons us. It may not always feel that He is there caring for us, but He is.
In addition to watching over the people of Judah during their exile, He never abandoned His vision for their good future.
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 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. Jeremiah 29:10-11 NKJV
In addition to their return to the land, one of God’s plans for their future was to bring them a Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would come to wipe away their sins on the cross, then later, return to rule and reign over all people on the earth. The ministry of Christ would begin roughly 490 years after their return from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem, as prophesied by the prophet Daniel. (Most Bible scholars interpret Daniel’s prophecy of seventy weeks to mean seventy “weeks” of years, or 490 years after King Artaxerxes gave the order for them to return to rebuild Jerusalem. Although there is some debate as to exact date, this decree is found in Nehemiah 2 and occurred sometime around 460 BCE).
24 “Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
25 “Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince… Daniel 9:24-25a NKJV
We will take a closer look at this and other prophecies by Daniel in later meditations.
Wherever we may find ourselves today, we know from scripture that God will never abandon us. In Him, we have a future and a hope, no matter how depressing things may look at the moment. Do not give up or be in despair, for there is a God who loves you and will do anything for you. He even died on a cross for you and would have done it even if you were the only one on earth who would reach out to Him to receive it. Trust Him today.
Where has God placed you at this moment in time? Is it a good and comfortable place, or a difficult and stressful one? Either way, be assured that the Lord has a loving plan for your life, a good future, and a wonderful hope.
Lord, we reach out to You in gratitude for Your many blessings and love. May the Spirit of Jesus be present with us, to comfort us in our trials and to accept our thanks for the many good gifts You have given. We pray for the prosperity of the people and the land where you have placed us, and that we may also enjoy its benefits. May the joy of life be with us today, whatever our circumstances may be. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.