For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:13-16 ESV
Jim Hunter was looking after the three pets of his friend John Longridge, who was working in England. But when Jim left them to go on a hunting and fishing trip, the three animals–two dogs named Luath and Bodger and a cat named Tao–left his house and started a trip across northwest Canada looking for their home and their family. Their journey took them hundreds of miles and they had many adventures along the way. When John and his family returned from England they were sure that their pets must be dead. They had no hope that Luath and Bodger and Tao would ever come home again, but then one day all three animals returned! It was a very happy homecoming.
The exiles of Judah dreamed of a happy homecoming also, but it seemed impossible. Unlike Luath and Bodger and Tao, they were held in Babylon and couldn’t journey back to their home, and they felt hopeless under God’s judgment. But when Jeremiah wrote to them and told them to get settled in Babylon and make their lives there, he also gave them words of promise and hope. Jeremiah told the people that after 70 years God would bring the exiles home again. God wouldn’t punish them forever, but instead he planned to give his people a future and a hope.
God didn’t desert his people, and he intended to keep all his promises to them and through them. God brought Jesus, the promised Savior, into the world through his exiled people after he brought them home again. Everyone who believes in Jesus has a future and a hope. Jesus died so that all our sins could be forgiven, and he has promised to bring us home to his heavenly kingdom someday. We look forward with great hope to the wonderful home God has promised to give his people.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to give us a future with you forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Burnford, Sheila The Incredible Journey Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1960.