Plans to Give You the Future You Hope For
29 1-2 This is the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to what was left of the elders among the exiles, to the priests and prophets and all the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken to Babylon from Jerusalem, including King Jehoiachin, the queen mother, the government leaders, and all the skilled laborers and craftsmen.
3 The letter was carried by Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah had sent to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. The letter said:
4 This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, to all the exiles I’ve taken from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5 “Build houses and make yourselves at home.
“Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country.
6 “Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you’ll thrive in that country and not waste away.
7 “Make yourselves at home there and work for the country’s welfare.
“Pray for Babylon’s well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you.”
8-9 Yes. Believe it or not, this is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God: “Don’t let all those so-called preachers and know-it-alls who are all over the place there take you in with their lies. Don’t pay any attention to the fantasies they keep coming up with to please you. They’re a bunch of liars preaching lies—and claiming I sent them! I never sent them, believe me.” God’s Decree!
10-11 This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
12 “When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.
15-19 “But for right now, because you’ve taken up with these newfangled prophets who set themselves up as ‘Babylonian specialists,’ spreading the word ‘God sent them just for us!’ God is setting the record straight: As for the king still sitting on David’s throne and all the people left in Jerusalem who didn’t go into exile with you, they’re facing bad times. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, ‘Watch this! Catastrophe is on the way: war, hunger, disease! They’re a barrel of rotten apples. I’ll rid the country of them through war and hunger and disease. The whole world is going to hold its nose at the smell, shut its eyes at the horrible sight. They’ll end up in slum ghettos because they wouldn’t listen to a thing I said when I sent my servant-prophets preaching tirelessly and urgently. No, they wouldn’t listen to a word I said.’” God’s Decree.
20-23 “And you—you exiles whom I sent out of Jerusalem to Babylon—listen to God’s Message to you. As far as Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah are concerned, the ‘Babylonian specialists’ who are preaching lies in my name, I will turn them over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who will kill them while you watch. The exiles from Judah will take what they see at the execution and use it as a curse: ‘God fry you to a crisp like the king of Babylon fried Zedekiah and Ahab in the fire!’ Those two men, sex predators and prophet-impostors, got what they deserved. They pulled every woman they got their hands on into bed—their neighbors’ wives, no less—and preached lies claiming it was my Message. I never sent those men. I’ve never had anything to do with them.” God’s Decree.
“They won’t get away with a thing. I’ve witnessed it all.”
24-26 And this is the Message for Shemaiah the Nehelamite: “God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says: You took it on yourself to send letters to all the people in Jerusalem and to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah and the company of priests. In your letter you told Zephaniah that God set you up as priest replacing priest Jehoiadah. He’s put you in charge of God’s Temple and made you responsible for locking up any crazy fellow off the street who takes it into his head to be a prophet.
27-28 “So why haven’t you done anything about muzzling Jeremiah of Anathoth, who’s going around posing as a prophet? He’s gone so far as to write to us in Babylon, ‘It’s going to be a long exile, so build houses and make yourselves at home. Plant gardens and prepare Babylonian recipes.’”
29 The priest Zephaniah read that letter to the prophet Jeremiah.
30-32 Then God told Jeremiah, “Send this Message to the exiles. Tell them what God says about Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Shemaiah is preaching lies to you. I didn’t send him. He is seducing you into believing lies. So this is God’s verdict: I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his whole family. He’s going to end up with nothing and no one. No one from his family will be around to see any of the good that I am going to do for my people because he has preached rebellion against me.” God’s Decree.
Don’t Despair, Israel
30 1-2 This is the Message Jeremiah received from God: “God’s Message, the God of Israel: ‘Write everything I tell you in a book.
3 “‘Look. The time is coming when I will turn everything around for my people, both Israel and Judah. I, God, say so. I’ll bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors, and they’ll take up ownership again.’”
4 This is the way God put it to Israel and Judah:
5-7 “God’s Message:
“‘Cries of panic are being heard.
The peace has been shattered.
Ask around! Look around!
Can men bear babies?
So why do I see all these he-men
holding their bellies like women in labor,
pale as death?
The blackest of days,
no day like it ever!
A time of deep trouble for Jacob—
but he’ll come out of it alive.
8-9 “‘And then I’ll enter the darkness.
I’ll break the yoke from their necks,
Cut them loose from the harness.
No more slave labor to foreigners!
They’ll serve their God
and the David-King I’ll establish for them.
10-11 “‘So fear no more, Jacob, dear servant.
Don’t despair, Israel.
Look up! I’ll save you out of faraway places,
I’ll bring your children back from exile.
Jacob will come back and find life good,
safe and secure.
I’ll be with you. I’ll save you.
I’ll finish off all the godless nations
Among which I’ve scattered you,
but I won’t finish you off.
I’ll punish you, but fairly.
I won’t send you off with just a slap on the wrist.’
12-15 “This is God’s Message:
“‘You’re a burned-out case,
as good as dead.
Everyone has given up on you.
All your fair-weather friends have skipped town
without giving you a second thought.
But I delivered the knockout blow,
a punishment you will never forget,
Because of the enormity of your guilt,
the endless list of your sins.
So why all this self-pity, licking your wounds?
You deserve all this, and more.
Because of the enormity of your guilt,
the endless list of your sins,
I’ve done all this to you.
16-17 “‘Everyone who hurt you will be hurt;
your enemies will end up as slaves.
Your plunderers will be plundered;
your looters will become loot.
As for you, I’ll come with healing,
curing the incurable,
Because they all gave up on you
and dismissed you as hopeless—
that good-for-nothing Zion.’
18-21 “Again, God’s Message:
“‘I’ll turn things around for Jacob.
I’ll compassionately come in and rebuild homes.
The town will be rebuilt on its old foundations;
the mansions will be splendid again.
Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows;
laughter will spill through the doors.
Things will get better and better.
Depression days are over.
They’ll thrive, they’ll flourish.
The days of contempt will be over.
They’ll look forward to having children again,
to being a community in which I take pride.
I’ll punish anyone who hurts them,
and their prince will come from their own ranks.
One of their own people shall be their leader.
Their ruler will come from their own ranks.
I’ll grant him free and easy access to me.
Would anyone dare to do that on his own,
to enter my presence uninvited?’ God’s Decree.
22 “‘And that’s it: You’ll be my very own people,
I’ll be your very own God.’”
23-24 Look out! God’s hurricane is let loose,
his hurricane blast,
Spinning the heads of the wicked like dust devils!
God’s raging anger won’t let up
Until he’s made a clean sweep
completing the job he began.
When the job’s done
you’ll see it’s been well done.