Hovering this morning over a well known portion of Scripture in Jeremiah 29. A portion of ancient writ that I know was not written specifically TO me . . . but that the Spirit bears witness was written FOR me. The context of Jeremiah’s prophesy so very different than any context I’ve known, or could even fully imagine, yet the truths of God’s declaration having as much application to me today as it did to God’s ancient people back then. So I’m thinking about promises, plans, places, and prayer.
“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you My promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV)
God had made a promise to Abraham and to his seed. A promise about a place. It was renewed with Isaac and Jacob. And, in measure, it was realized through Moses and Joshua.
God had plans for His people. As a maiden rescued from the mire they were to keep themselves for Him alone. As His flock they were to abide under His faithful care and provision. As His vineyard they were to bear fruit and show forth His glory.
But sin has a way of interfering with God’s promises and plans. The unchecked leaven of pride, arrogance, and self-determination has a way of creating a detour from the place God has made for them. It causes God’s people to turn their backs to Him, even when God’s desire is that His face shine upon them. Combine a stiff neck with a lustful heart and you’re mixing nitro with glycerine . . . it’s not about if, but about when, things are going to blow up. Can anyone say, “Babylonian exile?”
But God’s promises remain. His plans will be accomplished. The place He has prepared for peace and rest will again be inhabited. For in His grace, He moves His people to pray.
Call upon me . . . come and pray to me . . . and I will hear you. Seek me . . . with all your heart . . . and you will find me.
More promises. God’s simple plan. That we might know the resting place again.
Too often for my liking . . . though I think I should be more spiritual or more advanced in my Christian walk . . . I find myself on the outskirts of Babylon. Having let my guard down . . . having conceded the daily battle between the old man and the Spirit to the old man once again . . . having been tripped up by something I’ve been tripped up by before . . . I sense a distance from the place God intends for me. While always mine positionally, I have stepped away from my seat in the heavenlies. The abiding is not so much. The feelings of barrenness and exile roll in. The accuser piles on by telling me I should just stay there . . . that I should give up and hang out in Babylon.
But God has made a promise. And God has declared He has plans. And the place He was made for me is in His presence. And thus He beckons me to once again pray and seek His face.
And I do so, again and again, because He has made the provision.
. . . and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1John 1:7b-9 ESV)
Thank God for prayer that turns the heart back to the God of promises, plans, and places. Thank Him for the ever-flowing grace available through the cross that restores the exile . . . that we might share in His promises . . . participate in His plans . . . and know the Shalom of His place.
To Him be all glory . . .