- Sermon Notes
We Win in the End
Read: Jeremiah 29:4-13
Illus. Wait for it!
This morning we are going to open to Jeremiah 29. In it, we are going to study one of the most famous verses found in Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” It is a great verse and a powerful reminder that God know the plans, the plans are in His hands and those plans are for a hope, and a future. God says, “I know the plans I have for you.
While it is a great verse, the context of the text reveals that it was given in a time of great turmoil and difficulty for Israel. So, it is a great verse, in the midst of a bad chapter. Israel had continually turned their backs on God.
Daniel wrote of this time in Daniel 9:
Daniel 9:5-6, We have sinned, we have done wrong, and acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our leaders, our fathers, and all the people of the land.
The reason Daniel could write about it is because he was a part of the first group of three that would ultimately be taken captive by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon. As Jeremiah wrote Jeremiah 29, two rounds of people had already been taken captive totaling in the thousands. Some remained in Jerusalem and Judah, but they too would also be conquered and taken soon.
The people had been warned and would not listen, they continued in their own way and the way they were going in was the direction of destruction. So, the Lord hands them over to Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. Three times Nebuchadnezzar would come and cart off thousands of people.
Jeremiah 29 contains a letter those who are already in captivity in Babylon. Taken away, carted off into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar in the first two rounds of those who were taken into exile. Regarding it all, there was much that many had to say. The false prophets would say they would be out of there soon. But here we see the Word of the Lord to those in Babylonian captivity, that their situation was not going to end anytime soon, but it comes with a promise that He had a hope and future they can hold onto!
We need to know that in the midst of any chapter of our lives, God has greater promises. We know from His Word, we win in the end, and in the meantime lets hold onto the future and hope He gives!
I. Listen to What the Lord Has Say
Jeremiah 29:4-6, This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.
- There was much that many had to say to the Israelites. There were false prophets bringing false hope, telling them their exit from Babylon was right around the corner.
- But God tells Jeremiah that they weren’t going to soon be out of there. It had already been spoken by the Lord through Jeremiah in chapter 25:11 that they would serve Babylon for seventy years.
- In other words, no matter what the false prophets have said, the Lord had something different to say.
- Babylon was not where they would ultimately remain, but they would be there for a lifetime, 70 years is what they are told.
Psalm 90:10, As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is only trouble and tragedy; for it quickly passes, and we disappear.
- The word God gives Israel were powerful and important for them but also for you and me.
- We know that this world is not where it’s at, we recognize that this world is not our home, that we are pilgrims, just passing through; we are citizens of heaven, and as we have spoken about over the past couple of weeks, we look forward to Christ’s return!
- We also must remember that Jesus tells us to “occupy until He comes” (Luke 19:13)
Psalm 37:1-3, Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
- Jesus told His disciples, “you are the salt of the earth, the light of the world” (Mt. 5:14-16).
- Salt is valuable and essential, but it has its necessary effect only if it is distinct, yet fully involved.
Illus. Essential salts.
- Jesus calls His disciples “the salt of the earth.” There are specific ways in which salt is used that correlate with our opportunity as Christians in this world. Salt preserves, salt adds flavor, salt stimulates thirst.
Matthew 5:14-15, A city on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
- Salt and light are essential, yet distinct. That is what we are called, salt and light. Both are necessary, both are distinct.
- God says to the Israelites, stay in it, settle down, plant gardens, marry and have sons and daughters, increase in the number, do not decrease!
- They should increase in their land, not decrease, and so should we. This is a good word for us today!
Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Illus. Let it shine.
- Be Prayerful
Jeremiah 29:7, Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
- In addition to settling down and settling in, the Lord tells the Israelites that not only are they to stay, but they are to pray.
- They are to pray for the city, the evil city of Babylon, enemies of God. The king in the land took valuables from the temple, took many people captive including queens, kings, princes, priests, elders, prophets, and high officials.
- What does the Lord say? Pray!
- We saw some of what Nebuchadnezzar had done, we also know from Daniel chapter 3 that he is the king who told all in the land to worship a 90ft. golden statue he created. If they would not, they would be put to death in a fiery furnace. Some likely were, and you might remember some young men who were thrown in for their unwillingness to worship the golden statue named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. They trusted the Lord and were spared.
- This is the king of the land the Lord is telling them to pray for.
- Prayer for people in power is found in and throughout Scripture, we are to be salt and light, and specifically we are told to pray.
1 Timothy 2:1-4, I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
- Paul said to pray for them. Notice Paul says pray “for” them. The Greek word there is hu-pe’r, it means on one’s behalf, in the interest and aid of that person. The opposite of this would be to pray against that person.
- In Timothy’s day, the ruler was Caesar Nero. I spoke about him recently as well.
Illus. Pray for him?
- Paul says pray for the kings in authority, yes that person, whoever “that person” may be. Why? So that you can live peaceful and quiet lives. It is good and pleases God.
2 Chronicles 7:14, If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
- Many realize that our country is in the midst of great difficulty. There are many reasons and many things that we could look to as the reason, places to point fingers, but the Lord calls us to be purposed in His and purposeful in prayer.
Matthew 7:7-8, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
- Be Informed
Jeremiah 29:8-10, Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
- What was happening in Babylon was that there were false prophets telling lies and they were doing so in the name of the Lord.
- Specifically, they were saying that things were going to end soon. In Jeremiah chapter 28 we see a false prophet named Hananiah who said all the vessels of the temple, the king’s son, and all who had been taken to Babylon would be back home. There were others saying similarly, but what God makes clear that they were prophesying lies.
- Jeremiah wrote, you’re going to be there a long time. A lifetime, 70 years! After 70 years the Lord would bring them back, any other false promise would surely lead them off track.
- The false prophets were saying things people liked to hear, but they weren’t true, they needed to be informed, specifically they needed to be informed by God and we do as well.
Philippians 3:20, For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
- This verse reminds us that we are citizens of heaven, its already done, we win in the end. Additionally, it reminds us of who our Savior truly is, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not a four-year fill in either, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords for all eternity.
- We are citizens of heaven!
- We are citizens of heaven, and citizens of this earth. We have dual citizenship. That is a reality we live within, however, our citizenship in heaven is what should inform our citizenship on earth.
- In other words, get involved, settle down, pray for the land, but leave it all in God’s hands. Get involved but have a light touch. We can live this life knowing that we win in the end, and that should shape the way we approach everything else.
John 16:33, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
John 17:15-18, I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them away from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. Just as You sent Me into the world, I also sent them into the world.
- Jesus didn’t pray that His disciples would find great caves so that they could get away, rather, His desire was that His disciples would live out their faith in the world!
- What we must do is settle down and settle into what God has called us to do and who He has called us to be, salt and light, not conformers, but transformers!
Romans 12:2, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
- God says through Jeremiah, make the most of what you have, be fruitful and multiply, increase, be transformers not conformers!
- Be Reminded of Where your Hope is Found
Jeremiah 29:11-13, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
- To the Israelites the Lord says He know the plans He has! They are plans for a future and a hope. So too for me and for you, our future and our hope are in His hands.
- Yes, they would go through 70 years of captivity, but they needed to trust the Lord. He was going to bring them back.
- The Lord has a plan, and His plan is accomplished in light of the future and hope He has in store.
- We are here for a lifetime, but we are not here for all time.
- While we are here, we can look to Him alone for our future and our hope.
Jeremiah 29:13, And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
- God says you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart
- Knowing that our future and our hope are both in His hands, it can be so easy in this life to seek the plans, not the planner. To be focused on the future He has, not Father Himself.
“This is what the Lord of armies, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and father sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may give birth to sons and daughters; and grow in numbers there and do not decrease. Seek the prosperity of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord in its behalf; for in its prosperity will be your prosperity.’ For this is what the Lord of armies, the God of Israel says: ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst or your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to their interpretations of your dreams which you dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord. “For this is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.