Jeremiah 29:4–19, Jeremiah 40:1–6, Jeremiah 45:1–5
Jeremiah 29:12 is an oft-quoted verse:
“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the LORD’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
That verse is very comforting, and it should be. However, surrounding that verse is a whole lot of uncomfortable stuff: slavery, exile, 70 years away from home, expectation to live in exile and seek the benefit (?!) of their captors. We often don’t think about these things when quoting Jeremiah 29:12. Who does really want to hear, “yes, I’ve got the plan, and it involves losing everything you hold dear and supporting your oppressors?”
Jeremiah was offered a place in Babylon where he would be taken care of. He could be a prophet to his people and at least have some protection (often needed from his own people and the Babylonians) and decent accommodations with food. Instead, Jeremiah chose to stay with those that remained in the land. Instead of choosing power and security, he chose hardship.
The words given the Baruch may not seem to have a place here, yet the words spoken to Baruch are along the same line as those spoken to those going into exile. “Don’t seek your own ends.”
1) We can easily justify our goals and decisions by saying it was, “the right thing.” Have you ever experienced the right thing not being the “God thing?”
2) Why is the passage in Jeremiah 24 just as appropriate today as it was prior to the exile? How can we misuse it?
3) We often look to the big, new, bright, and shiny things. What do God’s words to Baruch (both verses 4 and 5) have to say about that?