Jeremiah 29:1-15 (CEV)
Jeremiah’s Letter to the People of Judah in Babylonia
29 1-2 I had been left in Jerusalem when King Nebuchadnezzar took many of the people of Jerusalem and Judah to Babylonia as prisoners, including King Jehoiachin, his mother, his officials, and the metal workers and others in Jerusalem who were skilled in making things. So I wrote a letter to the prophets, the priests, the leaders, and the rest of our people in Babylonia. 3 I gave the letter to Elasah and Gemariah, two men that King Zedekiah of Judah was sending to Babylon to talk with Nebuchadnezzar. In the letter, I wrote 4 that the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, had said:
I had you taken from Jerusalem to Babylonia. Now I tell you 5 to settle there and build houses. Plant gardens and eat what you grow in them. 6 Get married and have children, then help your sons find wives and help your daughters find husbands, so they can have children as well. I want your numbers to grow, not to get smaller. 7 Pray for peace in Babylonia and work hard to make it prosperous. The more successful that nation is, the better off you will be. 8-9 Some of your people there in Babylonia are fortunetellers, and you have asked them to tell you what will happen in the future. But they will only lead you astray. And don’t let the prophets fool you, either. They speak in my name, but they are liars. I have not spoken to them. 10 After Babylonia has been the strongest nation for seventy years, I will be kind and bring you back to Jerusalem, just as I have promised. 11 I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering. 12 You will turn back to me and ask for help, and I will answer your prayers. 13 You will worship me with all your heart, and I will be with you 14 and accept your worship. Then I will gather you from all the nations where I scattered you, and you will return to Jerusalem. 15 You feel secure, because you think I have sent prophets to speak for me in Babylonia.
This prophecy was given to the Jewish leaders at a time when foreign armies had destroyed their country. The leading citizens were forcibly relocated to Babylon, living in a ghetto there. They thought God had given up on them. Here Jeremiah tells them to work for the good of the city they are in, have children (as a sign of hope), and do useful
things. All this is to be done trusting that God has a larger plan that is good. In God’s plan, the people will experience both a renewal of their physical needs (29:11, 14), but also a renewal of their souls and their relationship with God.
Psalm suggestion: Psalm 148: In addition to the readings, try reading and reflecting on Psalm 148 each day this week. This psalm expresses how the birth of the Savior is good news, not just for people, but for the entire creation, even the sea monsters!
Psalm 148 (CEV)
Come Praise the Lord
148 Shout praises to the Lord! Shout the Lord’s praises in the highest heavens.2 All of you angels, and all who serve him above, come and offer praise.3 Sun and moon, and all of you bright stars, come and offer praise.4 Highest heavens, and the water above the highest heavens, come and offer praise.5 Let all things praise the name of the Lord, because they were created at his command.6 He made them to last forever, and nothing can change what he has done.7 All creatures on earth, you obey his commands, so come praise the Lord!8 Sea monsters and the deep sea, fire and hail, snow and frost, and every stormy wind, come praise the Lord!9 All mountains and hills, fruit trees and cedars,10 every wild and tame animal, all reptiles and birds, come praise the Lord!11 Every king and every ruler, all nations on earth,12 every man and every woman, young people and old, come praise the Lord!13 All creation, come praise the name of the Lord. Praise his name alone. The glory of God is greater than heaven and earth.14 Like a bull with mighty horns, the Lord protects his faithful nation Israel, because they belong to him. Shout praises to the Lord!