“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 I will give them a heart to know 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.Jeremiah 24:5-7 (ESV)
They were exiles. They had lost their homeland. They were going to be gone for seventy years. This was not a little bump in the road. They lost their homes, belongings. They lost their land and crops and income. It’s not what we would call good.
But it had to happen. It had been foretold. Their leaders had led them astray and they hadn’t been following God’s laws, especially the laws of the Sabbath. They hadn’t rested. They hadn’t rested the land. They hadn’t set the slaves free. There were cycles that were meant to be followed and they ignored them. They lived by their own thoughts and wisdom. In choosing to ignore the freedom God offered them, they chose slavery for themselves.
Judah’s leaders were not given this promise of good. They are given a promise of “horror.” There is a distinction, even though all the people have to go through the exile.
There are things that have to happen. There are things declared that must come to pass. Tribulations must happen. The Tribulation must happen. The end must come. But there will be a separation.
There will be those for whom it is a horror. There will be others who are going through it, but God is building them up; His eyes will be on them for good. They will not be forgotten or abandoned. God will turn their hearts to seek Him and to know their God. They will grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord. It will purify them and bring them closer to God.
The Babylonian exile, which this is referring to, is also the time of Daniel and the 3 boys in the fire. Their hearts were already turned to the Lord. They were already serving Him and desiring to know and honor Him with their lives. We know their stories. Their blessing from God was evident and caused them to be noticed for good and for evil. It brought them position and power, but it also brought persecution their way. However, it wasn’t a moment of horror; it was a moment of great glory. God was glorified and His servants were honored.
While we may not get honor in this world, one who walks through the fire by faith is one of whom “the world is not worthy.” You will take your place in the Hall of Faith. How? Just love the Lord above all else.