This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.
This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” (Jeremiah 29:4-14)
Jeremiah urged the captives in Babylon to plan for a long stay in Babylon. He encouraged them to continue with their lives and to pray for the nation that had conquered them. God wanted them to become productive citizens, praying for the nation’s welfare. That way their population could grow.
God did not forget his people, even though they were captives in Babylon. If they would look for him wholeheartedly, they would find him. The Lord’s plans gave them a future and a hope—for good, for prosperity, and, eventually, for return to the land of Judah.
These promises have given hope to millions of God’s people in various difficult circumstances. In times of trouble, it may appear as though God has forgotten you. But if you seek him wholeheartedly, you will find him. Neither a strange land, nor sorrow, nor persecution, nor physical problems can break your fellowship with God. God may be preparing you, as he did the people of Judah, for a new beginning with him at the center. Pray diligently and move ahead, doing whatever you can, rather than giving up out of fear and uncertainty.