Jeremiah’s 40 years of speaking God’s mind was primarily one of judgment. This never sat right with the people; he was regarded as a meddler and a traitor and just about everyone and his uncle wanted to see him put to death. He prophesied that Judah would be captured by Babylon and taken away from their home. When it actually happened false prophets came out of the woodwork and said the whole thing will pass in a few years, which was a hard but workable end in sight for the people. Jeremiah told them to put their seat belts on because it’s going to be 70 years. During that time God spoke through his prophet and said to the exiles, “Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce. Marry and have many children, and seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile.” As bleak as any situation can be God used Jeremiah to help us squint our eyes to see what God is really doing. In a fast food culture it’s so hard to take God at His Word and follow Him when we want to say, “I’ve got this,” and run ahead to where I have no idea.
Thomas Merton said it well what God was doing with the Israelites during those 70 years, and what He wishes us to experience: “God uses everything that happens as a means to lead me into solitude. Every creature that enters my life, every instant of my days, will be designed to wound me with the realization of the world’s insufficiency, until I become so detached that I will be able to find God alone in everything. Only then will all things bring me joy.”