For many years the prophet Jeremiah had been warning Judah about the devastation from the north that would be coming against them. Yet the people would not listen to him because they would not listen to the Lord. They demonstrated their foolish rebellion against God by worshiping idols.
God had armies to the north that He could use as He saw fit. Nebuchadnezzar was His servant though the far-off king might never acknowledge Him. Jerusalem and Judah would fall to the Babylonians.
There were many chapters that we could point to throughout the prophetic writings that speak of the interruption of life’s blessings because of the Lord’s judgment. This passage is different because of one specific detail—70 years. God revealed to Jeremiah the length of the Babylonian captivity. The prophet Daniel would later use this one fact as a certain promise from the Almighty. He would turn his face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and voicing heartfelt pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.
The provision of this fact of divine timing was an unusual condescension on the part of God. Jesus told His disciples that no one knows the day or hour of the return of the Son of Man. God was under no obligation to tell the exiles how long they would be away from the land. Daniel, a man of faith serving in the land of the Chaldeans, would consider the sure word of the Lord through Jeremiah and would pray accordingly. This detail of the length of captivity could also have functioned as an encouragement to people of faith that their exile was not permanent, since the actual duration of it had been determined and announced before it even began.
God also revealed through His prophet that He would punish the one who was the agent of their chastisement. Nebuchadnezzar was His servant for a time, but the Babylonians would be punished by God after the seventy years of exile were completed. For those who believed, they could take heart that the iniquity of their oppressors would not be ignored by God forever.
The Lord has a cup of wrath that no man can stand. It is measured out against His people, but it will also be given to the nations of the world. It is this cup that Jesus has consumed on behalf of His beloved bride. The cross is the justice of the Almighty, and for those who believe, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. We do not know the day of the Lord’s return, but we do know that the judgment that we deserve has been paid for by our Messiah. Now we wait for Him, believing His promises and doing the works that He has appointed for us. Though we may face serious disappointments, we have the joy of anticipation that comes to the one who faithfully serves at the pleasure of our great Redeemer and King.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God Almighty, You are able to deliver us from situations that seem hopeless. You have spoken to us consistently through the Scriptures, showing us the way to go. We have not listened to You. We have not obeyed You. Please forgive us and help us. Take us through days of discipline. Hold us and keep us. Bring us beyond the time of desolation. We long for the life that can only come from You. We long for the resurrection of the dead. Bring us a taste of life even now when we face great difficulty and even disaster. Help us to have faith that You are bringing about a very good plan. Though You roar against Your church, yet we know that You love us and will save us. We remember the cross, by which Christ has taken away the horrible wrath that was coming against us. He has faced Your fierce anger for us, and we have a secure and full hope in Him.