Jerusalem is in ruins. The temple is destroyed, the city is burnt, many people have been killed in the battle and subsequent defeat at the hands of the Babylonians.
One aspect of their victory was to forcibly remove some of the survivors of Judah and take them to Babylon. These would often be the strong, intelligent and younger leaders of Jerusalem. Daniel would be an example of the best of ancient Judah. He, like the others, was led away captive, 900 miles, to live away from everything they had previously known. The remaining Jews in Jerusalem were left destitute among the rubble of their city. Jeremiah, now an old man, stays with those remaining in Jerusalem and serves them as best he can.
However, he still has some words to those carried away as captives. He writes a letter to them where he encourages them to face their current situation. The captives (or sometimes the Bible refers to them as “exiles”) were in a place they didn’t want to be. Many may have been asking, “What do we do now?” Jeremiah addresses their situation.
While you might not have been forcibly marched 900 miles from your home, many of us at times in our life find ourselves like those in exile. Wondering, “What do I do now?” What do you do when you find yourself where you don’t want to be? Jeremiah has instructions for the Old Testament exiles and some wisdom for us when we are where we don’t want to be.
- Don’t Wallow In Self-Pity – verses 4-6
Jeremiah tells the captives, to build houses, plant gardens, plan on harvesting from those gardens. He tells them to plan on getting married, having offspring and expect grandchildren. In other words, live your life right where you are. Make the best of your situation. Just as they couldn’t sit around and complain about their circumstances, you too must live your life and you cannot wallow in a spirit of self-pity, bemoaning how bad everything is in your life.
- Actively Seek To Be A Godly Influence – verse 7
“Seek the peace of the city” Jeremiah says. While it can be quite difficult, when we find ourselves in a situation or a place we don’t want to be, we must find ways to be a Godly influence right where we are. “For in its peace, you will have peace.”
- Don’t Fall For Quick Fix Gimmicks – verses 8-10
Jeremiah is direct with them, “Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you.” Those “prophets” were false prophets by proclaiming how this was to be a short-lived exile and they would soon return to Jerusalem. He told the captives, this was going to take some time and there was no short cut. Too often, we face the temptation to think God is somehow a genie in a bottle and if we rub the lamp just right, He’ll pop out and make everything better. Typing “Amen” in your Facebook status is not how God blesses you. Do not fall for quick fix gimmicks.
- You Are Not Forgotten – verses 11-14
God promises the captives and He promises you, He has good thoughts or “thoughts of peace” towards you. He didn’t forget the exiles and He hasn’t forgotten you. God is working on many things in your life and you may not be aware of any of them. You may have a temptation to think, “God has forgotten me and left me in this condition. He doesn’t care.” That is incorrect thinking. Like those captives of ancient Jerusalem you are not forgotten.
When you find yourself where you don’t want to be, read this letter of Jeremiah chapter 29. Glean from his words and apply the lessons he is telling them. Don’t spend time wallowing in self-pity, find a way to be a Godly influence, don’t fall for some short cut and always remember, God has not forgotten you.
Remember His Word. It is our most valuable treasure. Blessings my friend!