Jeremiah 29

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Read Jeremiah 29

A Letter to the Exiles

29 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 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. 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.” Yes, this is what the LordAlmighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sentthem,” declares the Lord.

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 backto 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.”

15 You may say, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,”16 but this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your fellow citizens who did not go with you into exile— 17 yes, this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse and an object of horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. 19 For they have not listened to my words,” declares the Lord, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the Lord.

20 Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, all you exiles whom I have sentaway from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: “I will deliver them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes. 22 Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.’ 23 For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adulterywith their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know it and am a witness to it,” declares the Lord.

Message to Shemaiah

24 Tell Shemaiah the Nehelamite, 25 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You sent letters in your own name to all the people in Jerusalem, to the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, and to all the other priests. You said to Zephaniah, 26 ‘The Lord has appointed you priest in place of Jehoiada to be in charge of the house of the Lord; you should put any maniac who acts like a prophet into the stocks and neck-irons. 27 So why have you not reprimanded Jeremiah from Anathoth, who poses as a prophet among you? 28 He has sent this message to us in Babylon: It will be a long time. Therefore build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.’”

29 Zephaniah the priest, however, read the letter to Jeremiah the prophet.30 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 31 “Send this message to all the exiles: ‘This is what the Lord says about Shemaiah the Nehelamite: Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, even though I did not send him, and has persuaded you to trust in lies, 32 this is what the Lord says: I will surely punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants. He will have no one left among this people, nor will he see the good things I will do for my people, declares the Lord, because he has preached rebellion against me.’”

Go Deeper

In this chapter we are able to read a letter from Jeremiah (inspired by God) to the elders and leaders of the Jews living in Babylonian exile. As a reminder, they were far from home and displaced from all that they had known. Imagine the disorienting feeling they must have experienced! 

Verses 5-9 outline how God was calling them to live as exiles. They were to settle down and plant roots. They were to marry and have children. They were to plant gardens and make themselves at home. They were to seek the peace and prosperity of those around them (including the Babylonians). There was likely a desire to just wait it out or begrudgingly live day-to-day until they were given the green light to return home after 70 years. But that’s not what God was asking of them. He wanted them to live in a way that was uniquely different and compelling to those around them.

God wanted them to bring shalom to Babylon. That word means “peace” or “wholeness”. As we read the New Testament, Paul talks about how Christians are to be like Christ’s ambassadors here on earth as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19-20). We have the opportunity to live out the Gospel alongside a broken world that needs to be reconciled to God. We, too, are called to live in a unique and compelling way. 

Jeremiah goes on to remind them that God has a plan for His people; they have not been forgotten about and He is still working for their good. Pastor David Guzik in his Enduring Word commentary describes God’s message to the exiles in verses 11-12 like this: 

“The exiled Jews lived in the experience of God’s judgment upon their nation. It was easy for them to think that God was against them; that He intended evil for them. Through Jeremiah, God assured them that His thoughts toward them were of peace, and that in His heart and mind He had a future and a hope for them.”

Verse 13 is a powerful reminder of the full devotion that God is looking for: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God never abandoned his people; He wanted them to seek Him with everything they had. God reminded them that eventually they would return home, giving them hope for the future. We too, as exiles here on earth, can look forward to a future hope where we are finally home with God forever.


  1. What stuck out to you on your first read through this chapter? Why?
  2. What does it look like practically for you to bring shalom into the place that you live?
  3. Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse that’s often used out of context. Reading it in its original context, what is God trying to communicate to the exiles?

A Quote

Dr. Philip Ryken, who has written a commentary on the book of Jeremiah, said this:

“By themselves, random acts of kindness cannot bring enduring peace. The only basis for real and lasting shalom is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.”

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9 thoughts on “Jeremiah 29”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    Yesterday, we travelled to south Texas for the visitation and services for my sister. Our prayer along the way was that we be the “hands and feet of Christ” to her grieving family and friends. Reading this chapter reminded me that we are entrusted to bring Shalom to the broken places we encounter, because we have the eternal hope found only in and through Christ. It’s a hope that ushers in tangible peace beyond our limited understanding. Wherever we may land today, in the middle of a struggle or crisis, Jesus is and always will be our everlasting peace.

  2. 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.” Jeremiah 29:7

    This was written specifically to the Jewish people at this time in history; at the same however, I believe we are, “exiles” here in this broken world, when the fall from grace occurred in the Garden of Eden. May we seek the peace & prosperity of Waco, Texas and the United States of America.

  3. Easter and the resurrection power available through what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ accomplished for us has to flow through us. Acts 1:8 says we receive power after we receive holy spirit and are to be witnesses everywhere. (My condensed version). Pray for peace and prosperity for your city and country, but then, be the witness. Let your life shine with the light of the Word. If we are not doing the things that Jesus did and greater things, we are playing church; not being the church. Thank you Harris Creek for teaching us to be the church. Have a great day being!

  4. If all of life was easy would you trust and come to know God? Our plans are not His plans, almost all the time. We think life full of rainbows and sunshine when He has trials coming our way to help us grow in our trust in Him. All the old testament is pointing to what God had to put in place with Adam and Eve. The cross. Jesus made it possible for us to be brought back into right standing in our relationship with God. The cross is not something that happened to Jesus it was His purpose. So plant your gardens, raise your children to know God and to serve Him. When trials and tribulations come, look to the One who has the answers, listen, obey and bring shalom into you and your families lives. BUT GOD does offer hope. It’s not all about rainbows and sunshine. It’s not all about happiness. It’s about His plan from the beginning of time. It’s about drawing the people to Him and revealing His glory.

    God thank You for Jesus!!! WOOHOO!!! It is only because of what was accomplished on the Cross that I can have the shalom today. God thank You for showing, guiding, and helping me to increase with my love and trust in You. I do know that I know that You are my God. Thank You for continuing to help me when I waver. Guide me in Your truth. Thank You for trials that grow me. No, those times are not fun BUT GOD You show up so big and are amazing. God give me clear love goggles of Your people, the best words to speak for this day, and let Your fruit be evident in my ODD tree. (obviously delighted in the Deity). God I give You praise, honor and glory for Your HESED love in these minutes of this day in Jesus name amen.

  5. 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.“

    I will never, ever, ever tire of this well-known passage!

    PS – if you are interested in Scripture memory, there are hundreds of helpful songs (can be found on Spotify) for that purpose. Here is the song for this passage from Jeremiah 29:

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