Jeremiah 29 vs 10
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” (ESV)
Seventy years! Seriously! For those longing to return to their own land, to have things restored just as they were, it must have been a bitter pill to swallow this message from God. As a nation, as a people they were going to be in the grip of their enemy and remain in national humiliation for two generations and more. Most of those carried as captives to Babylon would have died by that time, their longings not realised. Those who survived and remembered Jerusalem would by then be very old people. Looking at the circumstances purely at the political and national level it was a catastrophe. That though was to look at it negatively, that was to set aside the purposes and sovereignty of God, and for those who trusted God and were faithful to him there was and still is a lot in this verse to encourage
Firstly while God held Israel securely in his hand he also had Babylon in his grip and despite all its apparent power, that power was granted only for a time and for a purpose, to fulfil the role intended by God. If this had been a vague promise to the exiles it would have brought limited comfort and only a distant hope but for Babylon especially as well as Israel the clock was ticking; Israel would return to Jerusalem, Babylon would perish in judgement. God’s people could and still can depend on his faithfulness.
It’s a timely reminder that God is sovereign in everything and rather than question or doubt in times of exile even the kind of exile we seem to be in at the moment, two things seem appropriate. First that we the church keep faith with God who is mighty, believing that he is working out his purposes for our ultimate good and his glory even though at the moment we may not see it. Then, if God has us here at this point in time and in these circumstances then it is for a purpose. What is the purpose? Even now it’s time perhaps to ask ourselves what lessons we need to learn, what have been our failures in the past, are we really listening to God now or have we already made up our minds about what he needs to do for us? In other words are we actually open and responsive to God the Holy Spirit’s leading now? If not then surely we need Samuel’s ear along with the trust and the confidence in the Lord to say “speak Lord your servants are listening”
LISTEN: Speak O Lord was the obvious choice of song, but listen to how God brought good from what seemed to be a setback and let’s praise him in every circumstance.