Day 19

The Seventy-Year Exile

from the Lent 2020: His Love Endures reading plan

Jeremiah 25:1-38, 2 Kings 17:13-14, 1 Peter 4:17-19

BY Guest Writer

For twenty-three years, Jeremiah pleaded for his people to pay attention. I wonder if he felt helpless as he watched his neighbors in Judah build their Asherah poles and bow to the stars and Baal. Perhaps he felt a knot in his stomach whenever he saw the shimmering idols, or laid awake at night weeping for the children sacrificed to bloodthirsty false gods (Jeremiah 7:31; 2 Kings 17:7–17).

It’s the same helplessness we feel when a loved one makes one destructive choice after another, or when we see the church we love caught up in shame and scandal. An all too human helplessness, knowing that no matter how much we plead, cry, warn, or rage, we can’t force anyone to change.

Now take that feeling, that longing, and set it next to the deep well of sorrow and anger in Jeremiah’s words. See it as only a pale reflection of the depths of God’s broken heart. This hard passage forces us to wrestle with questions of suffering and judgment and anger. God is tired of watching this chosen nation waste their inheritance and love on empty idols. Instead of following the humble way—seeing their land as a gift and honoring the Giver with their lives—they start to imitate their powerful neighbors. With a king and some land and a little bit of power, they seem to forget their utter dependence on the Creator, and when prophets come along to warn them of danger, they shrug it off and keep living comfortably. Jeremiah laments, “You have not obeyed or even paid attention. He announced, ‘Turn, each of you, from your evil way of life and from your evil deeds. Live in the land the LORD gave to you and your ancestors long ago and forever’” (Jeremiah 25:4–5). In the end, they brought disaster on themselves (v.7).

What do we do with the tension between this explosive message and God’s unrelenting mercy? Because for all these words about wrath and judgment, we know this broken path will someday lead to Jesus, God in vulnerable human form. We know further in the future, Jesus’s friend Peter will write once again about suffering, reminding a new generation that judgment and cleansing sometimes have to “begin with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17). And we know that it is even so today, when secret sin is exposed, when leaders are brought low, when we find ourselves confronting the violent legacy of generations before us.

It’s sobering, but this suffering isn’t meant to bring shame. In this season of Lent, maybe it’s helpful to remember that repentance begins in the smallest of ways, perhaps with these two simple words: pay attention. Pay attention to your life, to the little choices. Do they nudge you toward life or death? Do they keep you humbly looking more like Jesus, or do they help you climb higher in the systems of the world? Repentance means, quite literally, turning around when you see yourself on the road to destruction. May we all join the weeping prophet in calling each other to a better way, and “entrust ourselves to a faithful Creator while doing what is good” (1 Peter 4:19).

Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, writer, a spiritual director in training, and a contributing writer at The Rabbit Room. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts, with her husband Chris. Some of her favorite things include used bookstores and good coffee. You can find more of her writing at or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jen_rose.

Post Comments (48)

48 thoughts on "The Seventy-Year Exile"

  1. A Lee says:

    I’m reading Daniel 9 today for my QT and Jeremiah 25 relates so well to it. We need to pray for our nation and our world. If you listen to today it’s a great reminder of God’s sovereignty.

  2. Susan Crosby says:

    For 23 years Jeremiah warned the people to repent and be obedient to God. They did not listen and judgement came. I know by God’s Grace only would I have that much patience for the people. Gives me hope and encouragement to not lose sight of the gospel for the lost especially loved ones.

  3. Leslie Warnick says:

    “It’s sobering, but this suffering isn’t meant to bring shame.” Wow, this is how I am feeling today. Due to covid-19 I’m temporarily laid off, which means no payday. So in this suffering I’m ashamed of how I have trusted in money and my job and how I have been a poor steward of my finances. If I was more prepared … shame on me for…
    But Jesus took that shame. I need to remember. And Yes Pay attention! Not get caught up in my shame giving it the spotlight but get caught up in my Savior! Thank you Jesus for taking my shame. May I continually turn to You. Keep my eyes on you. Shine your light in the darkness. Seek to serve you and others instead of me. Praise You Lord!
    Blessed beyond measure by this study. Love SRT

  4. Stephie Gray says:

    “Pay attention to your life, to the little choices.”

    THIS is what I need to remember! It’s all of the little things along the way. They are leading me closer to or further from God. I can’t ignore the little decisions I make or the little actions I take and pretend that the smallest things don’t matter, because they do. Often it’s the smallest things that matter most. I pray that I *will* pay attention and that the daily steps I take lead me closer to Him.

  5. Anastasia says:

    PAY ATTENTION! I’ve felt this message bubbling up in my soul over the part few months. I should heed it!

    In these times of self-isolation and home church, it’s the best time to change habits and really seek God. I’ve heard word that this could be an Acts revival for the Church. Amen!

  6. Annika Ekblad says:

    It’s been so interesting to read through Jeremiah during this particular time when the whole world is in havoc. My pastor did a sermon series on Jeremiah a while back called “Strange Times, Strange Land.” I’ve been listening to it again during Lent and, wow, it’s just struck me again and again how these unprecedented times are so strange. However, just as Jeremiah did, we can bring God’s hope and light into the world now, when so much darkness and uncertainty and death seems to be looming over anything.
    I agree with you Carol, I’ve been wondering the same, if we’ll see a revival and awakening as we see the effects of the virus. I know and trust that God works all things for the good of those who love Him. I have full faith that He can use these scary times for good as well, just as He did with the times Jeremiah lived in.

  7. Carol Wyatt says:

    17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
    “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a]
    19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4:17–19

    I drove home from my sister’s yesterday. It’s an 11-12 hour drive. During that drive, I drive through some of the most gorgeous mountains in the Blue Ridge. It’s a route I’ve driven close to 100 times, and I never tire of it. Yesterday, it was gray, drizzly and foggy. Yet, I was still in awe.

    Our nation and world is facing a highly contagious virus. As I drove yesterday, I saw houses of worship closed on a Sunday morning. I know many churches live stream and some even did Facebook Live yesterday to reach their congregations. Nothing is impossible with God!

    I also took our president’s call to a day of prayer to heart. I drove a lot of that distance in silence. No radio. My goal was to sing hymns and pray as I drove across half of our nation.

    As I read Jeremiah this morning, it’s hard not to see our present state reflected back to us. I can’t help to wonder how God will use this time of “captivity” in our homes. I can’t help but think of Jesus spending 40 days in the desert. I can’t help but think how interesting it is that this is all happening during Lent. How will our houses of worship be impacted come Easter morning? Will this cause a revival, an awakening? Or, will we quickly return to our over scheduled ways? Will we become even more isolated and connected to our devices or will we spill out into the streets and rejoice?

    I recent heard that perhaps the decrease in church attendance in God identifying true believers—a separation of wheat from the chaff. I prayed yesterday and will continue to pray today that this time is a renewal of faith for our nation and the world.

    And, it can’t go unnoticed that today is 3/16, so I’ll use it as an opportunity to share this verse starting at John 3:16:

    16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

    1. Jennie P says:

      Amen. May we use this time to repent, to turn to the Lord and pray for revival.

  8. Catherine Surratt says:

    Do my decisions point me towards life or death? What a convicting thought to make us pay attention to what areas of our lives we need to point towards God in surrender – trusting He provides + He knows what’s best.

    Lord, this week i pray you help me to be fully aware, fully attentive of where my decisions and thoughts and feelings are pointing me – to life or to death?

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