Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the LORD.
For thus says the LORD: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
COMMENT: Jeremiah is speaking to the people of Israel while they are in exile in Babylon. He is telling them to invest themselves in the place where they are, even though it is not their ultimate home. He gives this reassurance: “God has plans for our future, plans for [our] welfare and not for harm, to give [us] a future with hope.”
QUESTIONS: What does it mean to you to think that God has “plans” for you? People often imagine that this describes a kind of deterministic future: everything is already planned out, decided, set in stone. Are there other ways in which we could understand this promise? What would you need to know or believe in order for you to have a “future with hope”?