A Good Word for a Bad Day
“For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
After Nebuchadnezzar had gained superiority over Jerusalem, Jeremiah wrote a letter for the captives in Babylon. These people had lost their families, their homes, their homeland and their freedom. They were in a dark place in a bad day.
Yet, in this place of hardship, they received from the servant of the Lord a “good word”. This was a promise from God that after seventy years had elapsed they would return as a nation to Jerusalem.
This was an timely reminder that God was in control; “I know the thoughts that I think towards you”. He understood what was happening. He was at the helm navigating a course for Israel through this crisis.
These thoughts that God had for Israel, in these troubled days, were thoughts of peace. These captives did not feel much by way of peace or rest. Like the disciples, who were afraid of the storm, while the Saviour slept, many of these captives felt neglected by God, exposed to Chaldean cruelty. As Christ would awake, rebuking the winds and calming the sea, making his disciples feel ashamed of their cowardice and unbelief, so Jeremiah showed the captives that God rather than sleeping, was working to a plan. And the plan was good for Israel.
God’s timetable was secure. After seventy years the captives would be set free. Most of those to whom the letter was written would die in Babylon, but their children and grandchildren would benefit from the promise.
Although seven decades is prolonged in the eyes of man the assurance was remarkable. Israel would not be exterminated, their identity would be preserved, their children would continue in the faith and the Messisnic line would be preserved.
God will fulfil His Word, always in His time, and will ultimately fulfil His grand design. But there is another sense in which God is always fulfilling His promises, in ways that are mostly unrecognised, preserving His people, providentially guiding and in being present with them at all times.
Today we feel ourselves to be living through bad days full of fear and uncertainty. In this time of sickness, death and economic chaos this is a good word for our nation, our church, our businesses and our families. God is not asleep. He is rather at the helm of our ship guiding us through the hazardous seas.
His plans for His people are filled with peace and not with evil. His timetable, not measured according to our reckoning, is secure nevertheless. He will bring this crisis to an end, when we shall gather with our families and the Lord’s people once again. And His timing will be perfect.
There will be a future for our families and for the cause of Christ after these days have past. We will one dayI’ reflect from the vantage point of hindsight and say with Ann Ross Cousin, the hymn writer:
“With mercy and with judgement,
My web of time of wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustered with His love;
I’ll bless the hand that guided,
I’ll bless the heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel’s land”
Let us, therefore, claim this promise for today:
“I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”