The children of Israel were in captivity in Babylon for seventy years. God's man Jeremiah was called on to deliver a letter to the captives and especially to King Nebuchadnezzar, giving instructions about God's expectations for them while in exile.
The text is from Jeremiah 29 and begins in verse 4:
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 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. 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.”
For people in exile for all those years, the words of the letter must have been a welcome sight. Through Jeremiah, God is informing the people to "begin your lives here." Build houses, settle down, plant gardens and eat what is produced. Increase your number through marrying and having children. Your children are to find husbands and wives and have children, too. They were told to increase their numbers, not decrease. Now look again at verse 7, "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.” God is wanting success and prosperity for those who are exiled. Encouraging them to pray for the peace and prosperity of their exile city, and then promising if they prosper, you will prosper.
Verse 10 continues, and lets us begin to look into God's heart to see the love he has for his people.
10 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. 11 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
God promises when the seventy years are completed, he is going to come get his people and take them home. His promises to them will be fulfilled. Underline verse 11 in your Bible. "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." I hope you absorb and remember that part. God has plans for you and those plans include your well-being and prosperity. He desires that you seek him with your whole heart, for that is when he will be found and you will be delivered. So I ask, "What plans do you think God has for you?" I think we can answer that when we seek him with all our heart, and find him, and know his deliverance. It's time we all spent some time with God, talking and listening, and allowing him to reveal his plans for us. There is the source of your hope and your future.