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Jeremiah writes a letter
Jeremiah 29

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? When I was a child I used to write letters to my grandparents and for a short time, a friend I tried to keep in touch with after our family moved. I really don't like letter writing. I'm glad for the age of email and Facebook and Skype.

Today we are going to touch down on Jeremiah 29. In this passage we are told of a letter that Jeremiah writes to the Jewish exiles in Babylon- class of 597 B.C.

Note: There was a series of deportations leading up to the big one of 586 B.C

Some details about Jeremiah's letter

1. It was carried by trusted men (2 men whose father's had a role in the revival during King Josiah's day)
2. While written by Jeremiah, it was the Words of God- for God impressed upon Jeremiah's mind what he was to write
3. It was a letter of encouragement
4. It was a letter of revelation and prophecy- for in it Jeremiah speaks to them clearly of their future
5. It was a letter of correction and rebuke-- Correction and rebuke was needed because they were being told by some of their leaders that their time of captivity would be short and that within 2 years the power of Babylon would be broken and that they would return home
6. It was a letter of hope and promise and the grace of God. The people clung tightly to the promises of this letter
7. It was a letter calling the people to exercise discernment as to who they inclined their ears to
8. It was a letter of instruction
9. It was a letter of great controversy-- for it was directly contradictory to the words of other prominent and powerful people
10. It is a letter that is directly connected to the vision of Jeremiah 24. To understand the promises of Jeremiah 29, you need to have Jeremiah 24 in mind.
11. It is a letter that contains verses that are incredibly popular with Christians the world over

READ THE LETTER v.1-23

4 lessons

1. God always keeps His promises. His word is Golden.
2. Be careful who you listen to
3. We need to pray for our city and be the best citizens we can be
4. God's got your best in mind

A deeper look

1. God always keeps His promises. His word is GOLDEN v.10

-It's easy to doubt God and His Word.
-It's easy to fall for the lies of scoffers who make fun of the Scriptures and their prophecies (2 Peter 3)

However

-God is always true to His Word. Note the promise of v.10 and the fact: It happened exactly as said.
-As Hebrews 6:18 tells us, it is impossible for God to lie
-God has a perfect track record. The Bible is full of fulfilled prophecies- hence we believe in the prophecies that remain to be filled on the basis of all the ones that have come to pass
-The messages of Jeremiah, despite naysayers at every turn, they all came true just as declared
-Just as God said, the people of Judah spent 70 years in captivity in Babylon and then God had a Persian King named Cyrus release His people and return them safely to their homeland.
-When Jeremiah prophesied that Hananiah of Jeremiah 28 would die that year for speaking falsely in the name of the Lord, so he did

God always keeps His word. His word is truth. John 17:17 "Sanctify them by the truth; your Word is truth."

You can trust your Bible. Fulfilled prophecy is a huge reason to believe the Bible and to believe that the LORD is the one true Gdo

Trust God

Every promise is ultimately yes in Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says; "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.

2. Be careful who you listen to v.15ff

Who will we listen to?
Will we listen to those who tell us that we can do whatever we want without consequence? Will we listen to those who tell us that their is no such thing as a day of Judgment for sin?
Will we listen to those who merely speak of peace and prosperity?
Will we listen to those who refuse to speak of sin or repentance?

What also of those who claim to be prophets and miracle workers in our day-- should you be giving them your money that they might buy themselves airplanes and lavish homes?

As tempting as it is to gather to ourselves people who say what we want to hear, we need to have great discernment regarding who we listen to and trust. We need to be vigilant when it comes to guarding the gate to our minds and hearts.

This reminds me of the song "O be careful little eyes" (eyes, ears, feet, hands, heart, mind: Be careful!)

The Israelites of Jeremiah's day were not as careful as they should have been. They inclined their ears to false prophets who told them that no disaster would befall them. They inclined their ears to false prophets who told them that the yoke of the Babylonians would be broken in two years and that soon they would be home (Jeremiah 28). They gathered around themselves ones who spoke to them what their itching ears desired to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)

Be careful who you listen to.

Be careful who you trust.

In Matthew 7:15-16 Jesus says; ""Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them."

We must be like the Bereans. Acts 17:11 says; "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

Our commitment hear at Islington Baptist Church: Proclaim the Word of God -cover to cover -faithfully

3. We need to pray for our city and be the best citizens that we can be v.5-7

What do you think the attitude of the Jewish captives was towards the Babylonians who took them away?

We live in a world of terrorism- in which bitter and angry people have no qualms about killing other people who they blame for their problems and who they harbor hatred against. I suspect the temptation of some of the Jews in Babylon was to become part of an underground movement against their Babylonian captors.

With all the possibilities in mind for a bad attitude, note what Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 29:5-7 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because it if prospers, you too will prosper."

The details

-You are going to be a long time in Babylon, so settle in.
-Be fruitful and multiply (reminds me of the Israelites in Egypt and how there they became a great nation)
-Seek the peace and prosperity of Babylon (HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE. DON'T BE BITTER. MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR TIME. BLESS THE PEOPLE AND DO NOT CURSE)
-Pray to the Lord for the city and it's leaders. Seek God's blessing and note this: As they are blessed, so you will be blessed.

These verses remind me of Romans 13:1-7 -which were written by Paul, of the Romans, in a time of persecution; "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Application for us:

-We need to be good citizens
-We need to be: law abiding, respectful, people who care for the community that we live in, fully involved, and productive members of society
-We need to pray for the leaders of our city
-We need to seek the blessing our city
-If our city prospers, so will we

4. God has our best in mind v.11-14

One of the best known verses of the whole book of Jeremiah is Jeremiah 29:11 wherein God says; "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

The big point of this verse is this: God has our best in mind!

God's best

a. It doesn't always come to us in the way we think it should come
b. Because of God's plan for our lives we can endure difficult times
c. Sometimes the receiving of God's best requires God's discipline or a time of great trial
d. The receiving of God's best and being in right relationship with Him, go hand in hand. Note how verses 12-13 speak to this.*****


A New Testament verse that fits perfectly with the context of Jeremiah 29 -Romans 8:28, which says; "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

God's specific plans for the Jewish exiles

-bring them back to Jerusalem
-A rebuilt Temple, funded by there former captors
-Safety, prosperity
-A people whose hearts were turned to Him. Note what God says in Jeremiah 24:5-7 (which is the contextual backdrop to to Jeremiah 29) ""This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. 6 My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

God kept His Word. The people in question, after experiencing the discipline of God, received what God wanted them to have in the first place- His best.

Something to remember

God always has our best in mind. While we don't have the ability to see the big picture, God always does.

Note: On Wednesdays our study of Romans 12 has addressed the question of How to get God's best. The Romans 12 template includes our being fully surrendered to God, our saying no to the things of this world, our being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and our giving ourselves to service and using the gifts that God has given us

CONCLUSION

Today we have considered 4 very relevant lessons from Jeremiah 29

1. God always keeps His promises. His word is Golden. Trust God. Trust the Bible
2. Be careful who you listen to
3. Pray for your city and be the best citizen you can be-- even if you don't like where you live, etc
4. God has your best in mind.