In 597 BC, the Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar plundered the city of Jerusalem and its Temple. During his invasion he carried away not only several of the Temple treasures, but also many of the most prominent people. The Bible says – “none remained except for the poorest of the people.”
This should have been a wake-up call for Jerusalem. Yet unfortunately, many of them continued to rebel against God. Rather than repenting of their sins and turning back to God, many of them continued to deceive themselves by following after the lies of the false prophets. Note the deceptive promises:
Jeremiah 28:2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the LORD’S house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon: 4 And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the LORD: for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.
The false prophets said – “In less than two years all of our problems will be over! Happy days will be here again!” Although these words may have sounded good, they were not from the LORD. Seventy years had been decreed for Jerusalem to be chasten and it would not be over until God’s appointed time had been fulfilled.
What should have been the proper response of the people? What should we do when we know that God is dealing with us? Peter writes: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Scripture says that the first thing we should do is to humble ourselves before God. Rather than continuing to be proud and resistant, we should humbly repent of all known sin. (see 1 John 1:5-10) As those of old who used to wear sackcloth and ashes, we should clothe our hearts with a spirit of genuine remorse and sorrow over our sins.
In addition, we should also seek God’s mercy and grace. The Bible says: Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. The word ‘boldly’ does not mean ‘arrogantly’, but rather – ‘confidently.’ Be confident that God will be merciful and gracious to all those who humbly seek Him.
In closing, consider God’s instructions for the Jews who were being chastened.
Jeremiah 29:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
God told the people to – “seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” In other words – humbly accept what the Lord is doing in your life. He has a plan and a purpose and in accepting His perfect will – you will find peace.