THE GOD WHO DOESN’T LEAVE
Early in his ministry, probably about 608 BC, Jeremiah stands in the courtyard of the temple, telling God’s people of the coming doom. The priests and false prophets seize Jeremiah, wanting to kill him for speaking against Jerusalem and the temple. But the officials recognize that he is speaking for God—so they spare his life.
God instructs Jeremiah to make a yoke and speak to the envoys of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon who had come to Jerusalem to meet with King Zedekiah, probably in 593 BC. If they don’t submit to the yoke of Babylon’s king, they will be removed from their lands and perish. Jeremiah gives the same message to Zedekiah. He has dismal news for the priests too: The treasures of God’s temple will be taken to Babylon.
Soon after this, Hananiah, a false prophet, confronts Jeremiah, saying that within two years God will return to Jerusalem those who were exiled to Babylon in 597 BC. Hananiah is misleading the people. God says that Hananiah will die within the year. He does.
Jeremiah writes a letter to the exiles in Babylon. They are to build houses, settle down, create families and be a blessing to the Babylonians. But the God who is writing their story will end their captivity in 70 years. And then he will lead them home.
The King’s Heart
Every child sacrifice, every sexual act of “worship,” every bit of incense burned to an idol was a statement: “We are choosing other gods—anything but you.”
Even though God’s exiled people fully deserved their captivity, our good God gave them hope.
“‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:10-11).
Over and over, God told his people how much he loved them. But love’s depth is tested in hard times. And our good God proved his love runs the deepest. God stood in his people’s darkest hour, when their sin was at its ugliest, when they spat in his face, and he boldly proclaimed, “I’m not going to leave you, still.”
Jeremiah 26:17-19 records that some of Judah’s elders remembered that in King Hezekiah’s time, a century earlier, Micah had prophesied judgment against Jerusalem and the temple—and because the people repented, God didn’t bring the promised devastation. God had been calling his people to himself for a long time.
Copyright © 2014 by Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved.