Jeremiah is given a vision of two baskets full of figs. One basket is filled with good figs and the other with bad figs. Those carried away by Nebuchadnezzar are the good figs who will be cared for by the Lord and brought through the exile into knowing the Lord. “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24:7 The bad figs are those who are staying in Jerusalem; the exact opposite of how the people saw what the Lord was doing.

Jeremiah recounts his twenty-three years of speaking and Israel not listening. “Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers forever and ever. Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands; and I will not harm you. Yet you have not listened to Me, says the Lord. Jeremiah 25:5-7 Jeremiah then proclaims the land will rest for seventy years before the captives will come back. Jeremiah is given the cup of God’s judgments to the nations which he, in the Spirit, must give them to drink.

In Chapter twenty-six, Jeremiah is again told to stand in the court of the Lord’s house and speak to those who come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words the Lord gives Jeremiah. The same message, but God hopes they will listen. They do not and they seize Jeremiah and say that Jeremiah should die since he is prophesying against Jerusalem. Again, it is a matter of perception. But, certain of the elders rescue Jeremiah from their plans recalling prophets who prophesied judgment in the past, and when their messages were heard, and repentance was given it became a blessing.

In Jeremiah, twenty-seven, Jeremiah is given a wooden yoke to wear. He proclaims that the nations that will serve Nebuchadnezzar will be blessed and those who will not, be destroyed. This is another matter of perception. God has Jeremiah call out the prophets who are saying differently. Do not listen to the words of your prophets who prophesy to you, saying, “Behold the vessels of the Lord’s house will now shortly be brought back from Babylon”; for they prophesy a lie to you. Jeremiah 27:16

In Chapter twenty-eight, a prophet named Hananiah, from Gibeon, prophesies that in two years all shall return to normal. Jeremiah says, “Amen” but knows it’s not so. So, Hananiah makes a point and takes the yoke off Jeremiah and breaks it. Bad decision, the yoke will now become iron, and because Hananiah made the people trust in a lie, he dies that year.

In Chapter twenty-nine, Jeremiah writes a letter to the captives in Babylon to refute this idea of a short stay and to prepare for a long stay. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. Jeremiah 29:4-7 This sounds like the very instructions Paul gave Timothy. Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 1 Timothy 2:1, 2

Even in judgment, God is bringing redemption. Even in His discipline, He is giving a future and a hope. What matters for me today, is to hear the voice of the Lord, accept His disciplines, return to Him with my whole heart, and depart from my wicked ways. Any way, other than Jesus, is selfish at best and wicked at its root. In this letter to the captives, Jeremiah’s future shares the heart of God in a verse that we all know and we rest our hope in for our own lives.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

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