The Lord shows Jeremiah two baskets of figs; one with very good figs and one with very bad figs. Then the Lord says, “Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.”
“And as the bad figs which cannot be eaten, they are so bad… so will I give up Zedekiah the king of Judah, his princes, the residue of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. I will deliver them to trouble into all the kingdoms of the earth, for their harm, to be a reproach and a byword, a taunt and a curse, in all places where I shall drive them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, till they are consumed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.”
The Lord has promised to be a sanctuary for the ones who have been taken into exile in Babylon. Jeremiah will warn the people left in Judah that there is no hope in trying to resist the coming judgment. He will repeatedly tell King Zedekiah, whom we will soon meet, that he needs to surrender to the Babylonians and go with them to the land of Babylon and he will live. However, if he resists the Babylonians, he will die along with his family and servants, and Jerusalem will be burned.
Jeremiah writes a letter to those in exile. He tells them to settle down in Babylon and build homes and lives for themselves there because they will be in exile for seventy years before the Lord will bring them out. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go 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. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity.”
The Lord says for the ones who have not gone into captivity, “Behold, I will send on them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like rotten figs that cannot be eaten, they are so bad. And I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence; and I will deliver them to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth—to be a curse, an astonishment, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they have not heeded My words, says the Lord, which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; neither would you heed, says the Lord. Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon.”
The Lord warns the people in exile not to listen to the false prophets in Babylon who are saying captivity will be short. The Lord will punish all false prophets who tell lies in His name.
Jeremiah speaks of the day of deliverance as he looks beyond the return of the Jews from captivity in Babylon to the day that the Lord will send the Savior to restore His people – “‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them…Your affliction is incurable, your wound is severe. There is no one to plead your cause, that you may be bound up; you have no healing medicines… Your sorrow is incurable because of the multitude of your iniquities, because your sins have increased… For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord…‘You shall be My people, and I will be your God.’”
We can not cure our sin problem. We need a Savior to come and do for us what we can not do for ourselves. Jesus Christ is that Savior. He is coming soon in the story to live a perfect life that we can’t live and to die on the cross as the final Sacrifice, taking on the sins of the world as the substitutionary atonement for anyone who puts their trust in Him – “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Only through a relationship with Jesus Christ are we healed from our sin sickness, deemed righteous in the eyes of the Lord, and restored to His Father, God of Creation. Keep reading. (Jeremiah 23:33-24:10, Jeremiah 29:1-31:14)