Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Great Mercy of God: The Letter to His People

            Because of the insulting infidelity of Israel to Yahweh by the worship of idols of the surrounding peoples, to restore her to her dignity of self-gift, He permitted her to be overcome and cast into exile. But Yahweh speaks lovingly to her through Jeremiah’s text in the following love letter:
Jeremiah 29:1-14 ©

This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to those elders carried off into exile, to the priests, the prophets and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had led away into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah had left Jerusalem with the queen mother, the eunuchs, the nobility of Judah and Jerusalem, and the blacksmiths and metal-workers. The letter was entrusted to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah had sent to Babylon, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. The letter said:

  ‘The Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says this to all the exiles deported from Jerusalem to Babylon, “Build houses, settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce; take wives and have sons and daughters; choose wives for your sons, find husbands for your daughters so that these can bear sons and daughters in their turn; you must increase there and not decrease. Work for the good of the country to which I have exiled you; pray to the Lord on its behalf, since on its welfare yours depends. For the Lord says this: Only when the seventy years granted to Babylon are over, will I visit you and fulfill my promise in your favour by bringing you back to this place. I know the plans I have in mind for you – it is the Lord who speaks – plans for peace, not disaster, reserving a future full of hope for you. Then when you call to me, and come to plead with me, I will listen to you. When you seek me you shall find me, when you seek me with all your heart; I will let you find me – it is the Lord who speaks. I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have dispersed you – it is the Lord who speaks. I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.”

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