This Scripture is pivotal in that we have to discern the ways of God in the midst of this letter from the prophet Jeremiah. It is pivotal because it is foundational to what must come after and what God does in times in corporate chastening. I have come to discern over the years of study that God works within a collective, whether it be the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or the nation of Israel, the Kingdom of David, and the Kingdom of God. What I believe is that whilst God has a personal plan and purpose for each individual within the given collective, this can only be discerned within the overall purpose of the collective we are born spiritually into. Once we discern our place within the collective, discerning God’s purpose for it, we can flow into the Will of God more easily.
For I know the plans….God’s plans are central to His dealings with us, in the realm of the dual experiences of desolation and consolation that we go through in this life.
Remember who Jeremiah is writing to. He is writing to a traumatised people, carried off in chains to a foreign land, and their homes and temple are destroyed. Jeremiah even in the context of this loss, must represent clearly a true representation of God’s judgment in desolation and His consolation in their restoration. Many would not have the maturity to understand the extreme circumstances they had just passed through, to dwell in a foreign land and amongst a people who knew not the God of Abraham, who had not been given a Law to live by. They must now be assured by God that even though what they knew in terms of King, Temple, and homes had all gone. They were now bereft of their possessions, evicted from their land on the pain of death. It was forced upon them, and the prophetic voice must come to assure them that God was still with them in it. That God would be leading them through a very difficult period in which sighs of missing Zion, and the things God had done amongst them. Jeremiah’s letter needed to be strong, revelatory, and directive.
As I write this, in a prayerful season, I am aware we are on the precipice of impending war, as nations are now gathering in meetings, signalling their rearming in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I certainly sensed in March 2020 the distant sounds of the beat of the war drum even then. Now if anything is going to shake the norms of life is a new world war with the potential to destroy great swathes of nations, and their heritage. I think that the Church could do with a prophetic voice that would need to prepare the saints for a troublesome period, where losses, lives and life itself would be the panorama of the landscape of daily life. Where this prophetic voice must ring out that God indeed knows His plans for His People. Even in the midst of impending financial collapses, disease, and war God knows His Plans, that He has specifically for His people. This is a rallying cry to seek Him for His plans in pain, pain of heart, to know what those plans are, even in evil days. The prophetic voice must ring out…God has a plan. God cares for His people, even when He has to judge them, and now He has come to describe His character toward them.
The disservice we are doing to the saints is only presenting one side to His nature, focussing on the Love, and not His Holiness. We are preaching a Saviour Jesus, not King or Judge. We are going heavily on the positive side of the covenants, the Word. Yet the Church is part of a process of judgment, for even Scripture says, Judgment starts in the House of God. The Judgment of God will be kindled because we have only taught the one side of God’s purpose. We are like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day who simply prophesied peace, and prosperity, and yet Nebuchadnezzar was at the doors, to invade. These false prophets lulled the people into a false peace, and an apathy that would lead them to calamity on the day God exercises the changes He desires. Many a Church, exposed for that which it hid so long, has scattered sheep, traumatised, because the message preached so long did not prepare them for the sifting Hand of Judgment. The saints need to know that the reality will be that the world shall not get better, but God has a plan….Jeremiah was persecuted for his message, and imprisoned. I sense the first persecution will come from a Church that refuses to face Jesus the King, and all that this entails, and God’s messengers, true prophets, who say there will be no peace, and that to prepare for the plans of God for His people will mean that they will need to exercise a greater faith and trust in God even though all around them crumbles and they are taken captive by the circumstances around them.
The word “Know” is the word “yada” which is always used in a covenantal context. If God knows His plans, these plans are for carrying through His people from desolation to consolation. We can be assured that within all what happens God will prosper His people, give them favour as they obey God in it. And in the extensive study I have done around the time of the Captivity, I marvel at how God looked after His people. And whilst this was 70 years, specifically, God had brought His processes to pass in Israel displaced from her land. And in whatever calamity we may experience, we can be assured as we experience desolation we will enter into the process of God’s Consolation. It is guaranteed.
His plan is not to distance Himself from us…but bring us close to Him.The whole process of the Calamity was to purge and purify so that all the obstacles fall away.
The generation that went into Captivity had grown insensitive to the purity of the covenant, the worship and following God. They had taken on the characteristics of the peoples around them. They had become distanced from God in practices He had prohibited. Kings promoted idolatry and perverse ways. Even Manasseh closed the doors of the Temple for the entire reign of 52 years, it was only when his son Hezekiah came to the Throne that the Temple doors were opened and all the idols that were in there were taken out. For over 52 years no priest offered a sacrifice, no prayer at the incense altar, the Glory was not sought for national atonement. Neglect and apathy had taken over the land. Priests abandoned their vocation. Prophets prophesied falsely of their own whims. Ezekiel, a priest, saw an opportunity, as he is bereft of temple and his service, so he is discerning as heavens opened, and through his book we see God’s purposes unveiled, and we see the crux of the problem displayed in chapter 36, they needed a new heart, and the Law, which had been inscribed on tablets needed to enter the human heart, and this could only come through the invasion of a new spirit, a Spirit that would come from God, changing the heart from stone, hardness, to softness. Unfortunately, the human heart is deceitful and hard most of the time. The process of breaking us, can take many years, and hard circumstances until we realise that God in all that time was trying to get to our heart, and say there needs to be a change. We need to realise the Spirit will come to us, changing our heart, showing us that we need God more than ever, and His Law would be written on our heart, and our obedience will be based on our love and intimacy that comes via the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
So God has to go to “desperate measures” to bring us into that intimacy. Incredible to even realise that. And even today God is looking at His Church, and He desires the intimacy with us, instead we are defending our programme, our denomination, our theology. What “desperate measures” God needs to do today to get our attention!
Then you will call upon me and I will hear you…Jeremiah 29:12When God begins to hear His people, about the things which are dear to God you know the earth and the heavens shall be full of His responses and manifestations.
When you go into any Christian bookshop, the most books you can find trying to instruct on how to pray, and the art of prayer, we find difficult a discipline to carry out in our daily lives. Yet there is coming a time when prayer will be the meeting place between God and His people, and when they call they shall know and shall experience Him anew. He shall move in the earth as He has not done for centuries. Already I have ascertained in speaking with guestmasters in different retreat centres that more and more people are coming aside from the busy life of today, to learn the intimacy of prayer. God is placing a thirst in His people to know Him, and when that thirst breaks forth, so a cry and a call shall go forth and from that call God will hear. This is His promise to the Church.
You will seek Me and find Me….When God makes Himself accessible He brings the ultimate experience in consolation.
Many times we struggle to know what decision to make, and what direction to take. When we seek Him, it becomes more than knowing what to do, our very existing in the BEING realm we shall immediately know what God wants us to do and what direction to take. We shall sense the warmth of His heart. We shall detect His pleasure and joy. The more we come closer the more we hear and “feel” Him. Finding Him is knowing WHERE He is. He is in the Spirit realm, and as we live for the Spirit, not the flesh it is obvious we shall find Him there.
When you seek Me with all your heartThe All of us qualifies us for the All of Him.
When seeking God, and basing all our lives in Him, we shall see an increasing measure of His Presence in our homes, and as we seek for Him in our choices and decisions, we shall see a fulness come. When we return to the Captivity history, we see that God’s people come to a realisation of the beauty of God’s glory on Zion, when we read Psalm 126, the sighs of God’s people, remembering what they heard when David erected the Tabernacle, and the Glory settled when the Ark of the Covenant was found in its place, and when Solomon dedicated the Temple, the fire fell and glory filled the House. What started to happen was an expectation that God was about to turn His face toward His people and His compassion would draw to a close this season of desolation. Consolation would start to filter in. For this to happen, Jeremiah prophesies and is specific of 70 years. It was God’s prophets and those who sought God in the darkest times, that would discern God in this, and call for His Consolation. It would be Ezekiel who would call and prophesy to priesthood, and Daniel would pray and prophesy to Palace. This would prepare the way for God to turn the situation, until the greatest authority of the whole known world, let God’s people to return, with one command, to build the House of God. This would give legitimacy and authority to those called to rebuild, even though there was considerable opposition. Gone was the idolatry and perverse ways in God’s people. They had embraced the vision of the beauty of the Lord in His Glory, a vision of a restored Zion.
And I will restore your fortunes…There is a favour that comes on God’s people that every aspect of their lives show richness and prosperity
When God brings His Consolation He crowns us with Favour incomparable. Everything we touch has the enriching of God on it. Whilst the world tells of uncertainty, inflation, poverty, injustice, God comes to His people with a different life, based on intimacy with Him. We know that the end days have very very hard circumstances to work through, turmoil, but God will bring His Redeemed through to His New Heaven and New Earth. Those that walk through the desolation shall surely know Consolation if they discern His Plans, and obey His direction. God is bringing this process so we may be joined to Him. We must allow Him to change our hearts, bring His Spirit into our lives, so that His Law may be impressed so much on us, that we obey from our intimacy with Him. Whilst all that which the world will try to do to defy God shall be brought to confusion, so God’s people shall walk confident of the plans revealed to them by God. Restoring our fortunes means that in the end life shall be a joy. All these benefits can be preached, and are preached today, but for us to get there, we may have to go through brokeness to learn obedience, and learn His ways.
I shall bring you back from where I scattered you…When God brings us back, is not to build the old things, but it will be in the new things we testify of His Goodness.
Losses shall be turned round into gains. In that season, and what the enemy has done shall also be recompensed. Many of us have known a scattering of our families, our joy, our Church, our friends. There will come a time of gathering, and that gathering shall bring forth joy from our hearts.
We must know that God’s plan in desolation is not to destroy, rather it is a process by which we can be positioned for consolation, if we embrace its pure process, submit to its pain, so that it can be transformed into gain and joy. Let us recognise that these unstable times are to bring a sure foundation in our hearts, our families, our Churches.