Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
Matthew Henry's Commentary
To make the people quiet and easy in their captivity,
I. God takes them off from building upon the false foundation which their pretended prophets laid, Jer. 29:8, 9. They told them that their captivity should be short, and therefore that they must not think of taking root in Babylon, but be upon the wing to go back: “Now herein they deceive you,” says God; “they prophesy a lie to you, though they prophesy in my name. But let them not deceive you, suffer not yourselves to be deluded by them.” As long as we have the word of truth to try the spirits by it is our own fault if we be deceived; for by it we may be undeceived. Hearken not to your dreams, which you cause to be dreamed. He means either the dreams or fancies which the people pleased themselves with, and with which they filled their own heads (by thinking and speaking of nothing else but a speedy enlargement when they were awake they caused themselves to dream of it when they were asleep, and then took that for a good omen, and with it strengthened themselves in their vain expectations), or the dreams which the prophets dreamed and grounded their prophecies upon. God tells the people, They are your dreams, because they pleased them, were the dreams that they desired and wished for. They caused them to be dreamed; for they hearkened to them, and encouraged the prophets to put such deceits upon them, desiring them to prophesy nothing but smooth things, Isa. 30:10. They were dreams of their own bespeaking. False prophets would not flatter people in their sins, but that they love to be flattered, and speak smoothly to their prophets that their prophets may speak smoothly to them.
II. He gives them a good foundation to build their hopes upon. We would not persuade people to pull down the house they have built upon the sand, but that there is a rock ready for them to rebuild upon. God here promises them that, though they should not return quickly, they should return at length, after seventy years be accomplished. By this it appears that the seventy years of the captivity are not to be reckoned from the last captivity, but the first. Note, Though the deliverance of the church do not come in our time, it is sufficient that it will come in God’s time, and we are sure that that is the best time. The promise is that God will visit them in mercy; though he had long seemed to be strange to them, he will come among them, and appear for them, and put honour upon them, as great men do upon their inferiors by coming to visit them. He will put an end to their captivity, and turn away all the calamities of it. Though they are dispersed, some in one country and some in another, he will gather them from all the places whither they are driven, will set up a standard for them all to resort to, and incorporate them again in one body. And though they are at a great distance they shall be brought again to their own land, to the place whence they were carried captive, Jer. 29:14. Now, 1. This shall be the performance of God’s promise to them (Jer. 29:10): I will perform my good word towards you. Let not the failing of those predictions which are delivered as from God lessen the reputation of those that really are from him. That which is indeed God’s word is a good word, and therefore it will be made good, and not one iota or tittle of it shall fall to the ground. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? This will make their return out of captivity very comfortable, that it will be the performance of God’s good word to them, the product of a gracious promise. 2. This shall be in pursuance of God’s purposes concerning them (Jer. 29:11): I know the thoughts that I think towards you. Known unto God are all his works, for known unto him are all his thoughts (Acts 15:18) and his works agree exactly with his thoughts; he does all according to the counsel of his will. We often do not know our own thoughts, nor know our own mind, but God is never at any uncertainty within himself. We are sometimes ready to fear that God’s designs concerning us are all against us; but he knows the contrary concerning his own people, that they are thoughts of good and not of evil; even that which seems evil is designed for good. His thoughts are all working towards the expected end, which he will give in due time. The end they expect will come, though perhaps not when they expect it. Let them have patience till the fruit is ripe, and then they shall have it. He will give them an end, and expectation, so it is in the original. (1.) He will give them to see the end (the comfortable termination) of their trouble; though it last long, it shall not last always. The time to favour Zion, yea, the set time, will come. When things are at the worst they will begin to mend; and he will give them to see the glorious perfection of their deliverance; for, as for God, his work is perfect. He that in the beginning finished the heavens and the earth, and all the hosts of both, will finish all the blessings of both to his people. When he begins in ways of mercy he will make an end. God does nothing by halves. (2.) He will give them to see the expectation, that end which they desire and hope for, and have been long waiting for. He will give them, not the expectations of their fears, nor the expectations of their fancies, but the expectations of their faith, the end which he has promised and which will turn for the best to them. 3. This shall be in answer to their prayers and supplications to God, Jer. 29:12-15. (1.) God will stir them up to pray: Then shall you call upon me, and you shall go, and pray unto me. Note, When God is about to give his people the expected good he pours out a spirit of prayer, and it is a good sign that he is coming towards them in mercy. Then, when you see the expected end approaching, then you shall call upon me. Note, Promises are given, not to supersede, but to quicken and encourage prayer: and when deliverance is coming we must by prayer go forth to meet it. When Daniel understood that the 70 years were near expiring, then he set his face with more fervency than ever to seek the Lord, Dan. 9:2, 3. (2.) He will then stir up himself to come and save them (Ps. 80:2): I will hearken unto you, and I will be found of you. God has said it, and we may depend upon it, Seek and you shall find. We have a general rule laid down (Jer. 29:13): You shall find me when you shall search for me with all your heart. In seeking God we must search for him, accomplish a diligent search, search for directions in seeking him and encouragements to our faith and hope. We must continue seeking, and take pains in seeking, as those that search; and this we must do with our heart (that is, in sincerity and uprightness), and with our whole heart (that is, with vigour and fervency, putting forth all that is within us in prayer), and those who thus seek God shall find him, and shall find him their bountiful rewarder, Heb. 11:6. He never said to such, Seek you me in vain.