We love to quote Jeremiah 29:11, “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.” In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that those words hang somewhere in your home or, in my case, adorn a coffee mug. They’re words that are well-known because they bring us comfort and hope in a wide range of circumstances, pointing us to the unshakable purpose of our unchanging God. What isn’t as well known is the verse right before it. Jeremiah 29:10 says, “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.” Jeremiah 29:11 is the foundation upon which God’s promise to bring His people back from exile stood. It wouldn’t be immediate. It wouldn’t be easy. But God would fulfill His promise to bring His people home.
The beginning of the book of Ezra sets the promise of Jeremiah 29:10 into motion, “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing.” In order to fulfill the promise He made through Jeremiah, God began to move in the life of Cyrus so that he proclaimed the return of God’s people to Jerusalem. This opening verse of Ezra contains remarkable truth about the promise-keeping power of our God.
I don’t know what promises of God feel impossible to you this morning, but if we’ve seen anything through the unbroken story of God, it’s that God always keeps His promises, even if it takes longer than we thought it would, even if it looks impossible, even if it requires stirring the heart of a king. Let’s also remember that God didn’t stop at stirring the spirit of Cyrus. He also stirred the hearts of His people to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Today, let’s pray that He would do the same in us, stirring our spirits to believe His promises and to follow His plan.