A Letter to the Exiles
1 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
2 (This was after King Jehoiachin [a] and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.)
3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:
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."
8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.
9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the LORD.
10 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious 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.
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to 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, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
I love this passage. Verse eleven has often been a great comfort and encouragement to me, especially when viewed in context of this passage. The people of Israel have been taken prisoner and exiled to Babylon, the cream of Israel's people are cut off and in a foreign land under their captors.
Yet it is in this situation that the Lord tells them that he has plans to prosper them and has a great future in mind for them. In the middle of what might seem a hopeless situation, God promises that he is with them and their end will not be in Babylon, he promises them their own land again, descendants and riches.
In context, it is in this situation that we come across Daniel, the man who was thrown into a pit of lions for praying to God and not worshipping the king. Yet he found himself raised to be one of the most powerful and closest advisor's to the king. From a point of despair he was raised up to prominence, authority and wealth, because he remained loyal to God and the Lord had a plan for him.
In the same way today God continues to promise his people that he has a plan, and no matter what trials we go through now, no matter how low our situation seems to be, He promises hope and a future. This future is not just for this life now, in the same way God promised to bring the Israelites back to Jerusalem, he promises his followers today that he will bring them home, to their spiritual home with him for eternity.