This passage is one that shows the love and care of the Lord for his people. Yet it is a verse that often perplexes us,friends will often quote this to reassure us when we are going through difficult times, we often expect God to act quickly to fulfill his purposes for us. Very often the implication is given when this verse is shared that everything will turn out alright very soon. Surely a good and loving God would not keep his people waiting would he? Surely he will show us the way just as soon as we ask, this has become our mindset. We live in a generation when everything is desired instantly,on the Television here in Britain we get so many adverts telling us that if buy a certain brand of broadband connection for our computer, we will have super fast download abilities. We treat God as though he is a broadband provider, we want super fast answers, and when we don’t get them we get dejected. The biggest surprise comes when we read this verse in its context. Jeremiah was telling the exiles that they would have to WAIT 70 YEARS for the fulfillment of this prophecy.
And these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the exiles, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had deported from Jerusalem to Babylon, 2 after the going out of Jeconiah the king, and the queen mother, and the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, and the artisans, and the smiths from Jerusalem, 3 by the hand of Elasah, the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah, the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah, the king of Judah, sent to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, to Babylon, ⌊saying⌋, 4 “Thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have deported from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5 ‘Build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and father sons and daughters, and take for your sons wives, and give your daughters to men that they may bear sons and daughters, and multiply there, and you must not be few. 7 And seek the prosperity of the city where I have deported you, and pray on behalf of it to Yahweh, for in its prosperity you will have prosperity.’
8 For thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst, and your diviners, deceive you, and you must not listen to your dreams that you are causing them to dream. 9 For they are prophesying ⌊falsely⌋ to you in my name; I have not sent them,’ ⌊declares⌋ Yahweh. 10 For thus says Yahweh, ‘⌊As soon as the time has passed⌋, seventy years for Babylon, I will attend to you, and I will fulfill my good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans that I am planning concerning you,’ ⌊declares⌋ Yahweh, ‘plans for prosperity and not for harm, to give to you a future and a hope. 12 Then when you call me, and you come and pray to me, then I will listen to you. 13 When you search for me, then you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart. 14 And I will let myself be found by you,’ ⌊declares⌋ Yahweh, ‘and I will restore your fortunes, and I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places to which I have driven you,’ ⌊declares⌋ Yahweh, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from which I deported you.’
When you read the verse in its context then we can be encouraged in an even deeper way than we often would be by a superficial reading of just verse 11 alone. The context reminds the exiles that whatever happens God has good purposes for them that he will fulfill in his timing.Here we see that God needed to take them through this time to accomplish his purposes. So many of the great Biblical heroes had to wait for the fulfillment of God’s word tp them including Abraham,Joseph, Moses,David and Jesus. Jesus is not seen on the public stage until he is 30, Moses wandered in the wilderness looking after sheep for 40 years. God takes through times of waiting to cause us to grow in him. He makes more Christlike as we depend on him more.
The waiting time is also to be a praying time where we seek the Lord’s blessing on all those around us, the exiles were to seek the welfare of the country they were in. They were also told to seek the Lord with all their heart. We too are called to a God centered life, a life of service to God and others. The God centered life will be one of prayer and worship, we will seek him for who he is and not for what we can get from him.
I believe there are many hurting believers, who have began to doubt God’s goodness because they expected instant answers to their prayers. They also expected that when God had called them to a certain task, they would live in the good of that quickly. If you are in that place,I hope this short article will have shown you that God does still love you but he knows better than we do how to bless us. Perhaps William Cowper sums it up for us in his hymn,
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
However hard the journey,however long you have waited, I pray that God will encourage your heart, so that you may be able to say with a full heart, God is good.