4 Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: 5 With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. 6 Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him.
8 From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.”
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 back to 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.”
2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.
8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
God was adamant that his people were going into exile under the Babylonians. It was to be an exile for a fixed time, 70 years, and God made a promise that he would bring them back. He also planned to prosper them during the exile. Right away people started looking for prophets that would tell them good news instead of bad. It was easy to find people who would proclaim the good news that the people wanted to hear. God was not happy with these false prophets or the people who listened to them. The people who listened to God prospered, those who didn’t suffered the consequences.
I have come to realize that that true suffering comes from not following the will of God. Actual life events, whether it is winning the lottery or going into exile do not make me happy or depressed. Failing to recognize and listen to God has left me in some very uncomfortable situations in my life. I’ve also experienced God during some trying times of my life that enabled me to feel content and know peace while circumstances would have dictated panic and unrest.
Jesus was made to experience suffering also. Hebrews tells us that Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered. The fire of suffering and exile can and does bring us closer to God. Fortunately we have Jesus to act as high priest for us. He is able to intervene for me when I am ignorant and headed astray. Praise God for his wonderful plan that leads me to salvation.