Monday, October 10, 2016
This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” You claim that the Lord has raised up prophets for you in Babylon. But this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all those still living here in Jerusalem—your relatives who were not exiled to Babylon. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “I will send war, famine, and disease upon them and make them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. Yes, I will pursue them with war, famine, and disease, and I will scatter them around the world. In every nation where I send them, I will make them an object of damnation, horror, contempt, and mockery. For they refuse to listen to me, though I have spoken to them repeatedly through the prophets I sent. And you who are in exile have not listened either,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 29:10-19(NLT)
Who can know the mind of God? His plans and ways are more like a tapestry than a picture, and we tend to look at it from the wrong side!
Evidence of that is the way we use Scripture to suit our own thoughts and preferences rather than seek the will of God. Through Jeremiah God said, I know the plans I have for you…. We want that to mean everything is going to be peachy, lovely and easy.
But if we read the whole context, God is getting his people ready for losing the war with Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, and the seventy years of brutal captivity that will follow. Not exactly something you’d want to write on the flyleaf of your Bible!
It is dangerous to predict any future, especially if you’re basing it on something that happened to someone else. But we tend to do that, don’t we. And we tend to do that as we deny facts. You can lay down on a train track and assume everything is alright because the sun is warm on your face, and the gently vibrating rail beneath your back is like a massage to your degenerated spinal discs. You can deny the fact that the gentle hum you feel is really the approach of a 195-ton locomotive, and it’s getting really close. Your spine isn’t going to enjoy the meeting unless you change your thoughts and ways!
There was a lot of uneasiness in Jerusalem. Strong and evil enemies were gathering on the horizon, and the words from the seat of government were: oh, don’t worry; we’re going to be just fine…go back to your parties, vacations and shopping. Hey, go get a tattoo, it’s all good here!
But the voice from the prophet was: when things fall apart, look for plenty of bloodshed, famine and slavery to prevail for the next few generations. And, by the way, God will do this. Eventually he will bring your descendants back from the woodshed…but, for now…brace yourselves…your greatness is over!
We have conflicting views in America (boy, do we ever!!!), especially now that we’re in an election year. TV is inundated with urgent messages to elect one or the other to fix everything from terrorism to budget woes and toenail fungus.
We may be headed for the kind of wake-up call Israel received at the point of Nebuchadnezzar’s sword. I pray it will not be that, but the parallels are too much like the hum of the locomotive on the train tracks. Consider another nation/city steeped in wickedness - Nineveh; they heard God’s prophet speak God’s word and repented:
Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.” When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:9-10(NLT)
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!
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