Last week I had the opportunity to speak at Toowong Uniting Church (my family’s local church). I don’t do it all that often, but enjoy the opportunity when it arises. This week I spoke from the bible passage of Jeremiah 29:1-14 as part of the congregation’s series on Jeremiah. Take a read of the passage, and then continue on for the thoughts I shared. It’s a fascinating story (Jeremiah’s) and I found it a really interesting one to dig into. One cautionary note as you read – this text is written to be spoken – so it might lose something as a pure piece of text….sorry!
Let’s start his morning by setting a little of the context for this passage. We find ourselves reading the story of the Israelites in a period of exile – royalty, senior figures, priests, prophets, artists – have been removed from their land and carried off to Babylon in the north.
Jeremiah had been prophesying about this event for a couple of decades or more – Matt pointed that out for us in his introduction to Jeremiah last week. This message from God via Jeremiah hasn’t been popular, and it hasn’t been well received, but Jeremiah has been consistent and steadfast in his word to the people. Geo-politically over this period the Babylonian empire has been on the ascendance, and they’re taking power, spreading their wings. Theologically, these events are foretold as God’s judgement on the people of Israel for their behaviour.
And so they’re gone. Captive. Hauled off to the Babylonian city. Removed from home, land, temple. Prisoners. Broken. Frightened. Huddled together wondering what next. Probably feeling abandoned by God, and maybe, just maybe, starting to wonder whether they should have been listening to Jeremiah all along.