With all our heartJeremiah 29:1-32Ⅰ In the place where the Lord is looking
Chapter 29 is two letters of Jeremiah (4-23,25-32) which were written to exiles in Babylon. In Verse 1-3, there is a description that when Zedekiah had sent messengers to the king of Babylon (594 years?), it had been entrusted to the messenger. Now, main battle group was trying to rebel against Babylon; would Zedekiah has sent messengers to Babylon for that explanation? In order to keep the upset of the people who became the captivity, the king was committed letter of Jeremiah (first). The second letter (25-32) is the rebuttal letter of Jeremiah against Shemaiah who read it and has sent a letter to the main battle group (25-28). But, roughness in the editing is noticeable.
First, it is from the first letter (4-23). "Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters and take wives for you sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare." (4-7) There is it here, "Thus says the Lord of host, the God of Israel" (4). It is a word that has been used many times in this chapter, but it is the full name of God, and this is a declaration (of God) towards exiles which was read in the full name. They were familiar with that name of God, in the cultus of the Jerusalem temple. It was better encouragement than anything for them; because they had to continue the tough work in the land of distant foreign countries and in the midst of derision which peppered to them, while surrounded by foreign gods. This shows the absolute trust to God of Jeremiah and Baruch, and further more, it would have been their belief that the word of God always will be fulfilled. Yahweh is the One who is superior to the gods of Babylon. Now, they have been placed in the land of pagan, but further they are encouraged continued to protect the faith in Yahweh, and to walk on the basis of His power and grace. It is said "pray", here, but they are said to work, to be married, and to be father of sons and daughters, and to be prosperity. They have been said to continue such trades in two generations three generations. Because, such steady progress is possible by supported of the Lord, and step of the faith is a thing like that; this is the first advice of Jeremiah. Even in the land of pagan Babylon, your sincere step will be seen by the Lord; it would have been the message of Jeremiah. They needed to hear that the prosperity of Babylon is the prosperity of you, and it is possible only by the help of the Lord and the bless.
Ⅱ What is the plan of the Lord?
"Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, ..." (5-7); Jeremiah who had encouraged the exiles to walk with the foot to the ground firmly, even if they live in Babylon far away, told the another "Fortunate promise" from God.
"'When seventy years have been completed to Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the Lord, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the Lord, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'" (10-14)
About "When seventy years have been completed for Babylon", I have mentioned it in Chapter 25 like this, "when the king of Babylon was followed by three generations"; as if Babylon had appeared in only to become the hand of God totally, and as if in order to destroy the person who did not hear the word of God, it had faded away at 60 just a few years. However, the people of captivity came back to the country which they yearned for in a dream. And, it is said it is a plan that gives hope and peace of God to the exiles. Prosperity and return, those are never different. It is the declaration that still He is their God and its relationship is continuing without destroying by the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah from Abraham; I feel there His strong desire to be their God more than ever. Both the prosperity and the return were plans of the salvation of God.
Ⅲ With all our heart
However, these two letters have also been told stern warning, as well as blessing. The part of warning of the first letter, probably, its order would be 15, 8-9, 21-23. Verse 16-20 will be seen with the addition of progeny, so I omit it. In summary, it is like this. "Because you have said, 'The Lord has raised up prophets in Babylon,'; but do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and no not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them. Thus says the Lord of host, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah and concerning Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying to you falsely in My name, 'Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them a cause shall be used by all the exiles from Judah, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fore, because they have acted foolishly in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors' wives, and have spoken words in My name falsely, which I did not command them; and I am He who knows, and am a witness."
And it is about the second letter (25-32) of Jeremiah, but Shemaiah who was among the people of captivity has wrote a letter to the priests of Jerusalem, <You have a faire Jeremiah who sent a letter to work hard to the exiles. Why do you leave it to him?>; Jeremiah has heard it, and wrote this letter to Shemaiah. It was that Shemaiah deceived the exiles by a false prophecy, so God would punish him and his descendants.
Fight against false prophets which lasted from Chapter 23 has been carried forward. Prophets, Ahab, Zedekiah, Shemaiah, and Hananiah of Chapter 28 had mixed among the exiles. That message was, "Because they will be brought back to Jerusalem in less than (two years later?), you need not build a house in Babylon and you need not work hard for the Babylonians". Surely, the exiles would have clung to the divine revelation of no basis. Under such circumstances, they were not able to live in a calm, and they were not possible to do the hard labor. Because, it will come involved in their faith immediately. It would be said that the prophets poured the poison to the exiles. Shemaiah slandered Jeremiah as "madman who prophesies", but it was equal to defame God. The prophets and the people who heard that voice was not able to participate to the feedback with prosperity which was the promise of God.
God says, "I know their sin well. (So, I will punish them certainly)" (23); in addition, He says "I know the plans that I have for you, to give a future and a hope". God or we will be going to pick which of them? Unfortunately, Jews who returned were far away from the hope and peace, as if had obeyed the false prophecy totally. Than ever before, their desire and hatred became exposed, and they had spent their time in conflict with the machinations. However, the planning of new salvation begins to move to those who go against God again and again. There is it, "Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found to you". For those who do not even listen to without also called, the appearance of the savior would have been necessary. There is it, "Ask, and it shall be given to you;" (Matthew 7:7); we also want to hear the Lord of cross with all our heart. Don't you think so?