Terry R. Baughman
“After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10).
The tragic story of judgment is revealed on the nation of Israel throughout much of the Old Testament. It’s the sad tale of people who rejected God’s desire to make them a great nation with a chosen identity who lived in covenant with Him and enjoyed the blessings of a benevolent God. Rather, they became a rebellious nation and committed many defiant acts against the covenant God had given them. They embraces many pagan deities and violated the commandments that ensured their success and assured the blessings of favor. After many years of theocratic rejection and their willful indulgence of idolatry, judgment began to be unfolded in precise fulfillment of the prophets who warned them of the retribution of God that was forthcoming.
Through numerous battles and the prevailing opposition of surrounding nations, they became weaker against their attackers and succumbed to the victorious nations of oppression. Eventually, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was overpowered by the Assyrians and multitudes were displaced and driven to distant lands where there would be no threat of their ability to mount an offensive action.
Ultimately, the city of Jerusalem fell to the new world power centered in Babylon as they became the dominant force of the known world. Thousands died as cities were overpowered and walls of their fortress were burned. Multitudes of the living were driven from their homeland to live their lives in internment camps in foreign places. Most would never return to rebuild their homes and lives in the land of Judah.
It was in this most distressing time of judgment that God moved on the heart of a prophet to pen a letter of intent. Jeremiah spoke the words that God gave him concerning His plan for Israel and God’s purpose to restore the nation to its former glory. The length of judgment was determined, seventy years, and the timeline of restoration was drawn. Even though some would not live long enough to see the blessing of God’s favor, there would be a generation to come who would experience the fulfillment of God’s plan. There was an end in sight. After seventy years God would again move in their situation to remove them from a distant land and bring them back to the place of their inheritance.
While the people of Judah were servants in Babylon, God was charting their days and planning their future. In the midst of judgment God was planning blessing. In the time of the Exile, God was designing deliverance. While God’s people were captives in a strange land, God was preparing spiritual reformation and national restoration.
Much like we might sit down with our computers, notes and maps to plan out a road trip and the sights and stops along the way, God was planning their future and dreaming of better days to come. God’s plan for us is much the same. He sees the paths we have taken in life and knows the distant drama we have experienced. Just as He saw the prodigal son in the pigpen, He also saw the road that would bring him home and the loving father that was waiting at the end of the way. God seeks us when we are away from Him and, more importantly, He sees the way we will take on our way home.
God thinks of you and sees beyond the pain of punishment to the peace of repentance. His forgiveness is already prepared and His abundant mercy is already secured. He is planning our restoration party and has such high expectations for our future. It is filled with hope!
Though the years of rebellion are long and the distance from Him seems great, receive God’s prophetic letter as you receive this message today. God has a plan for you, and You are in His plan!
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).