“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear 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 I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”
Over the past two mornings, God has been impressing on my heart His faithfulness to His people. It was in the words of a minor prophet in the Old Testament, referencing the exile of the Israelites, that this began stirring in my heart.
God’s people had broken His covenant, worshiping other gods and ignoring His Law. Yet God did not simply remove His hand and cast them out of His presence and favor forever. He preserved for Himself a remnant, individuals among His people who would serve Him, those He would bring back to their land and the city in which He has chosen to place His name.
In the midst of prophecies telling of Jerusalem’s destruction and the people’s exile, detailing their generations of flagrant disobedience and rebellion, we find an undercurrent of hope. Promises to restore, to heal, to bring back, to forgive.
“Your pain is incurable because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant, I have done these things to you…
Those who plunder you shall be plundered, and all who prey on you I will make a prey.
For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD.”
“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon…They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”
“In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old…I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.”
“I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.”
In these verses, we see the promises of God woven into words of a time of great trouble. In Hosea 2:15, the Lord declares that He will make the Valley of Achor, which means the Valley of Trouble, a door of hope. This is how powerful and faithful our God is. Trouble is not the end of our story. Hope is.
Whatever the apparent cause of our situation—poor decisions; consequences of others’ sin or our own; effects of this world marred by sickness, death, and pain—know that our God is ultimately in control of it all, none of it surprises Him, and He is being faithful in the midst of our trouble. It is the trouble itself which He is able to make into a door of hope for us. He will use this difficulty for our good, for our hope, and for His glory.
Our God will heal. He will restore. He will bring back. He will rebuild. He will strengthen. And He is perfecting us through it all, bolstering our faith in who He is and what He has said He will do.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s
he makes me tread on my high places.”