God Usually Makes Us Face Our Consequences
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:7, 11, 13 ESV)
There is a simple, yet vital principle that must be considered in order for someone to receive the real truth from God’s Word: “Text can only be understood within context.”
One of my favorite verses of Scripture is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares The Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Such a great promise! But this declaration comes at a specific time toward a specific people – it has context that, when understood, unlocks the kind of truth that sets people free.
Jeremiah prophesied these words to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. (Israel was once a United Kingdom, but became divided after King Solomon’s death. The larger northern Kingdom was comprised of the majority of the twelve tribes and thus retained the name “Israel” and never had a godly king. The smaller Southern Kingdom was referred to by the name of its primary tribe of “Judah” and had some godly leaders along the way. Even then, the people of Judah were continually and consistently rebellious and hard-hearted against God.)
Jeremiah prophesied harsh truth. The rebellion of the people would have severe consequence. They would be taken into Babylonian captivity, and it would not be short-lived. There would be seventy years of captivity before a remnant of people would return to Jerusalem.
However, false prophets were saying, “No, God will deliver us. He will give us peace. We are His people. He will never punish us!”
Sometimes truth is difficult to discern. There will always be voices “prophesying” defeat, and there will always be voices promising peace. How do you discern the truth from the deception?
Jeremiah conveyed a message from God. It would prove to be true. The people were indeed taken captive and lived in exile for seventy years. Then a remnant returned to Jerusalem with a new opportunity to pursue God in a new season.
Jeremiah’s wisdom said:
Those of you in Babylon should go ahead and settle into the city. Take wives, have children – you will be here for a while. Seek the good of the city, because this is where God has you for this season.
But know this – I have not forgotten the plans I have for you, and you will come out of this dark season of your soul. You are currently enduring the pain of your own decisions, but My grace will bring you back to a dependency on Me.
You were headed toward terrible destruction. I had to stop you in your tracks. My hand may seem heavy on you, but I am actually protecting you from your own foolishness.
You may not understand Me, but you can trust Me.
I am not far from you. You will see Me and hear Me, when you give your whole heart to pursue Me. I am closer than you think.
The simple truth is this:
1. Foolishness and rebellion have consequences.
2. God usually makes us face our consequences.
3. God’s hand may seem heavy when He is protecting us.
4. God still has great plans for us, despite our foolishness.
5. God always requires the entirety of our hearts.
Today I pray for those who are wayward. Sons and daughters of God who are living reckless, half-hearted lives. I pray that they would heed the warnings of wisdom. But, if not, I pray they would be humbled by their own consequences, in order that they may see the promise of Your plans for their lives.
I choose to give you my whole heart.