Jeremiah’s prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures is pretty dark. It’s full of warnings to the Nation of Israel because of their ungodly behaviour. Like any good parent, God warns His kids when they’re going off track and let’s them know the consequences if they don’t change: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place…” (Jeremiah 7:3). But they didn’t listen or change their ways, so God disciplined them by taking them into exile into Babylon.
Jehoiachin, king of Judah, was captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon, along with some 10,000 of Jerusalem’s principal citizens in 597 BC (see 2 Kings 24:12-16). There they stayed for 70 years. They settled down, built homes, grew in numbers and sought the prosperity of the city where they were in exile.
In Jeremiah 29, God gives some good news and hope to His people: 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. 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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 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.”
The Prophet Isaiah picks up the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (almost 300 years before it happened) in Isaiah 43, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”
This is a wonderful promise of God’s provision as He led His people back to their homeland. They would need to travel through the wilderness, the dry wasteland, the desert but this land would be transformed by God’s provision of refreshing water for His people.
What was prophesied over 2,700 years ago is still being fulfilled in Israel today. What God did supernaturally for Israel then, they now put into practice so that Israel has gained a worldwide reputation for its ability to turn barren desert into useful and arable land. They redirect floodwaters to desert areas, they use solar power, they have fish farms that thrive on brackish desert waters, and they plant trees and alternative crops that reverse desertification. It was Israel that developed modern drip irrigation now used by many nations, and 50% of water used in desert areas is recycled wastewater – higher than any other nation. Such ingenuity has reclaimed land that was once considered useless.
Click here to see some of the amazing things this nation has achieved:
The ingenuity that the people of Israel have demonstrated to turn sand into land can be employed by each of us in our everyday lives. What can you do this year to redeem areas in your life that you now consider unproductive, wasteful or dry? Use your God-given wisdom and refresh yourself and others in 2014!