Unchanging and forever faithful God
Everyone loves to quote this verse: “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer.29:11 NIV).
I want you to see God’s grace in the darkest hour. After the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. under King Nebuchadnezzar, many of God’s people were brought to Babylon as captives. But after a number of years Babylon was defeated by the Persians and became a part of the Persian Empire. The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to allow them to return and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
The first return under Zerubbabel, second return under Ezra, third return under Nehemiah. Nehemiah recorded the third return to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. God chastened His people with 70 years of captivity in Babylon (Jer.25:11). God, being true to his promise of judgment, He did the same thing earlier in 722B.C.to the Northern kingdom of Israel. The Assyrians deported the 10 northern tribes and scattered them all over to the then known world (2Kings 17). God permitted a foreign nation to conquer the Promised Land and to carry the children of Israel into exile.
During the 70 years of Babylonian captivity, the Hebrew people lived in the land of the Babylonians, a region formerly known in history as the Ur of the Chaldeans (Gen. 11:31). This was the very place from which God had called Abraham. It is safe to say, the plan of God had returned to where it began.
From our human perspective, it seems that the grace of God appeared to have failed to accomplish anything. Pagan worship once again flooded in Israel and the so called people of God returned to slavery in a foreign land. Where was the glory of Jerusalem? Centuries of Jewish history—nothing but ruins in the gravel and sands of time.
It was during this “darkest hour,” the unchanging God of the Hebrews assured his covenant people that despite apparent victory of evil over good, His grace would prevail. (Please read Jeremiah 29:10-14 and its context to fully understand what I mean.) True to His promise and faithfulness, the Lord returned a remnant of His people to the Promised Land. They had to start all over again. Like Abraham, especially those in the second return, they arrived in the new land they had never seen. Like Abraham they abandoned everything that is familiar, to live in a land God would show them.
Can you see the grace of God? In the darkest hour of their lives? Read verse 11 again. This verse is very old! Yes, but God’s word is a timeless principle and it is applicable to us, especially as we start a new year. We have an unchanging God and He is forever FAITHFUL. We are His people in the NEW Covenant. May you have a great 2021. Always focus on Jesus. All by grace and by grace alone. His grace is with you!