ODJ: Beautiful Captivity

March 20, 2016 

READ: Jeremiah 24:1-10 

Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: “Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good” (v.5 NKJV).

I know a couple who share freely about a devastating time in their marriage. But the focus of their story isn’t the hurt or the wounds they inflicted. Instead, they talk about how God used that experience to reveal deep-seated issues that needed to be addressed and dealt with. As a result, they emerged from the painful pruning closer to each other and to Him. Amazingly, they’re grateful for it and the good that has come from it.

Speaking of good and bad things, God once asked, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” The prophet replied, “Figs, some very good and some very bad, too rotten to eat” (Jeremiah 24:3). The people of Judah who remained after Babylon’s first Judean raid were the bad figs. Rather than choosing to heed God’s warnings, they turned to Egypt for help. But all of pharaoh’s horses and all of his men couldn’t save Judah from utter destruction. Instead, Egypt too was judged. By the time Babylon was through, Egypt would never again be a major world power.

What about the exiles? At first, they “sat and wept” by the rivers of Babylon (Psalm 137:1). But then a new perspective emerged. Jeremiah proclaimed that they were the good figs, who God “sent out of [Judah] for their own good” (Jeremiah 24:5 nkjv). God promised them a future and hope—including the restoration of their homeland.

Sometimes life’s challenges and difficult days are actually blessings in disguise. As we go through hard seasons, God can use them to mold and grow us. He told the exiles that He would “build them up and not tear them down” (v.6). It wasn’t a time to weep, but one to rejoice. God took something meant for evil and turned it around for good. He does the same for you and me today!

—Remi Oyedele

365-day-plan: 1 Samuel 3:1-21

Read Genesis 50:19-20 to see Joseph’s perspective on his brothers’ brutal betrayal. 
Are you currently in a situation you desperately want to escape? How might it be used to glorify God and eventually bring about joy?