Jeremiah 28:8–9 (ESV): 8 The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”
During the reign of King Zedekiah, the last king before the final deportation of Jews to Babylon, a prophet named Hananiah publicly proclaimed that God said he had broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years, Hananiah said, the vessels of the Temple would be returned, and the exiles would come back home.
During this time, Jeremiah was carrying around a yoke of wood on his neck. Jeremiah spoke, seemingly agreeing with this prophet, but then closed with the highlighted text. In other words, “if this man is truly prophesying the truth, it will come to pass.”
Hananiah then took the yoke from Jeremiah’s neck and broke them. Jeremiah simply left.
Later, however, God gave a word to Jeremiah, telling him sending him to Hananiah with a message: God was replacing the yoke of wood with a yoke of iron. Furthermore, God would remove this false prophet from the earth. A short while later, Hananiah died.
In that context, then, we read in Jeremiah 29 that God’s prophet sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon telling them to build houses, plant gardens, plan to eat the harvest, and settle down in that foreign country.
And in that message we find the verse that is very popular today: Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV): 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.
It may be only natural for Christ followers to want relief from a world that is hostile to God. It may truly feel like there is no future ahead for us. It might even sound spiritual to be faithful and merely “hold on to the end.” But God wants us to thrive for his glory in whatever situation we are in, seeking the growth of His kingdom.
In what ways am I extending the kingdom of God in my world today, promoting the Good News that the King has come, bringing salvation for all?
Heavenly Father, may I thrive, not merely survive. May I consciously and purposefully seek to extend your kingdom by sharing the Good News with others, living the Good News in community, and in everything glorifying your name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.