Salvation, not misfortune!

The prophet Jeremiah has a particular resonance. He was called to be a prophet when he was quite young. He served for more than 40 years. Jeremiah had a hard life. His requests and messages for conversion delivered to the temple were not well received. His city turned against him and he endured many persecutions.

 Although he preached faithfully the word of God, apparently he had only two converts: Baruch, his scribe and Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian eunuch who served the king. He spoke of God, in the name of God and became a sign of contradition. Jeremiah was a voice just like that of the Church today.

This chapter reports a letter that Jeremiah sent to the priests and prophets already exiled to Babylon: King Coniah, the Queen Mother, the royal officials, the craftsmen and the Smiths a group that included Daniel, about the year 597 BC. It was sent by a man named Elasah.

There were false prophets among the Jews who said something very different from Jeremiah. He had said that the Babylonian exile would last 70 years, while the false prophets said it would be only two years. From the biblical accounts it emerges that the message of the false prophets was welcomed while that of Jeremiah was dismissed.

The people of God are exiled to Babylon because of their own sin. Yet God continues to seek them, to speak with them, and to encourage them with his promises. Perhaps we too are far from the Lord today because of our sin, but God is able to take us home, no matter how far we may have wandered. Just go to him with faith: no matter where we are, he will take us home.

God wanted the Jewish people to multiply in Babylon, as it had multiplied in Egypt. Exile did not mean that God had forgotten about them or wanted to destroy them. He wanted His salvation to come to the pagan land of Babylon through His people who did good in their communities and was a blessing to their Babylonian neighbours. Ultimately, this is the desire of the love of God for all His children.

This step is not only of historical interest to us, because the New Testament says that christians today are also exiles. Our homeland is the Heavenly Kingdom, the New Jerusalem, but for a time we are exiled to a land where we have little power and we often live among those who do not love our God. Jeremiah's letter to these exiles of the sixth century B.C. is equally applicable to us as to them.

Jeremiah expressed an important conviction in what he wrote later in the book of Lamentations.  "This is what I shall keep in mind and so regain some hope: Surely Yahweh's mercies are not over, his deeds of faithful love not exhausted; every morning they are renewed; great is his faithfulness!" (3:21-23).

 

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