Jeremiah 29:11-12: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope; then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
The Jewish people were captives in Babylon by the will of God. He had brought judgment on Judah for their generations of rebellion against Him. In God’s plan they would be in Babylon a long time – 70 years. However, even though the Jews had been in captivity in Babylon, exile didn’t mean that God forgot about them or wanted to destroy them.
We may not know Gods thoughts but He says, I know the thoughts that I think toward you. Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. It was easy for the exiles to think that God was against them; that He intended evil for them. Through Jeremiah, God assured them that His thoughts toward them were of peace and that in His heart and mind He had a future and a hope for them.
This promise expresses the unchanging heart of God toward His people. Although these were Gods thoughts toward Israel under the Old Covenant; He is the same to those who come to Him in faith, through the Messiah, in the New Covenant.
God has a future and a hope for His people even when they suffer and hurt under deserved discipline or judgment. It’s the devil’s deception to rob Gods people of their sense of His future and a hope for them.
God had a special purpose in allowing the captivity of his people into Babylon. It was to scatter the synagogues and the Old Testament, in preparation for the Gospel.
You will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. This helped explain the future and a hope that God had for His people – then and now. Though they were not in Jerusalem and couldn’t perform the temple rituals, God would still listen when they prayed. Their prayer and Gods answer were part of their future and hope.
Although in exile, they were not without God and those God sent to serve them. Ezekiel and other prophets could still minister to them. Then and now, when we search for God with all our heart He will be there and will listen to us!