August 14 (Daily reading: Jeremiah 26-29) [Part One, A New Hope] Jeremiah had to contend with the contradictions of false prophets like Hananiah, who claimed that the exile would be over within two years. Jeremiah wrote a difficult letter to the exiles in Babylon to set the record straight. The exile would be 35 times longer than they had been told. Hananiah had set the people up for hopelessness because he had “made this people trust in a lie” (28:15).
The letter revealed God’s plan to get the people through their hopelessness. It is also helpful to us when we must walk that path. The first thing is the most important: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles” (29:4). We can see light at the end of the tunnel when we know that God has a special word for us! And then came the instructions. They must have felt cheated at first. God told them to build houses, plant gardens, get married and have children, and even grandchildren! They would be there not two years, but seventy! When hopeless feelings assail us, we must continue to live. Settle in for the long haul because God has a plan!
An even more surprising word came next: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf.” Pray for good things to happen to those who have made you feel hopeless. Why? “If it (the city) prospers, you too will prosper” (29:7-8, NIV). They would be there a long time. They needed to invest themselves in the present reality. What do you do when you can do nothing about the situation that makes you feel hopeless? Settle in, trust God, and wait for Him to reveal His solutions and blessings!
– Al Gary