What was Jeremiah’s council for the Israeli captives in Babylon?


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Israeli Captives in Babylon

Despised and rejected by his brethren at home, the prophet Jeremiah directed his messages to the Israeli captives in Babylon. He sent the captives a letter (2 Kings 24:8–16; 2 Chronicles 36:5–8; Daniel 1:1–4). And he told them to accept their lot and be quite there (Jeremiah 29:1-7). This took place probably after the Babylonians captured Jehoiachin (Jeremiah 29: 2). The prophet instructed the exiles that their being in captivity at that time was not against the Lord’s will, and that they should make the best of the situation.

The wisdom of the Lord’s council

This good advice was necessary because like their brethren in the homeland (Jeremiah 28), the Israeli captives were agitated and reluctant to submit to their Babylonian subjugators. The false prophets fueled their attitude of rebellion. So, Jeremiah advised the exiles to endure their state patiently. He told them to have children and grandchildren showing that their captivity would be for at least two generations. Also, he declared that they would be left in peace to pursue their ways, for their conquerors would allow them to own houses and land (Jeremiah 29: 5).

The prophet advised the captives not to believe the dreams of their false prophets (Jeremiah 29: 8-9). These deceivers carried on their work in Babylon as in Judea (Jeremiah 14:13). They pretended to speak for God, predicting that the Jews would be speedily delivered from their captivity (Jeremiah 28:1–3).

Seventy years of captivity

Jeremiah informed the captives that they shall return to their homeland after seventy years (Jeremiah 29: 10-14). God will “perform” His “good word” of promised mercy and cause His people “to return” to their place. Even the captivity of the exiles would be for their own good (Jeremiah 24:5–10). God assured and comforted His people with the promise that when the 70 years would end, His “eyes” would be “upon them for good” (Jeremiah 24:6). If in justice the Lord had to “wound” His children by means of the captivity, in His love and mercy He would “heal” them by means of the restoration (Deuteronomy 32:39; Job 5:18; Hosea 6:1). God made it plain that He can do nothing for His people unless they seek Him with sincerity of purpose.

The opposition to Jeremiah’s message

Jeremiah’s message to the exiles stirred up the wrath of the rival, false prophets in Babylon, and a movement was formed to destroy Jeremiah under the leadership of Shemaiah a Jewish leader in Babylon. But the Lord sent a reply message rebuking Shemaiah for his evil and that he will be punished (Jeremiah 29:32).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

This answer is also available in: हिन्दी

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