Jeremiah 24: 2 “One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket, very poor figs, so bad that they could not be eaten.”
This image was given by God to Jeremiah. It was when the first exiles were carried from Jerusalem to Babylon by king Nebuchadnezzar.
The Lord showed Jeremiah the two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the Lord. This was where the people brought their offerings. In a way, the baskets of figs represented two kinds of offerings to the Lord. Offerings were a form of worship or devotion to God.
Both the baskets contained figs, the only disparity was in the quality of the figs. But, when brought as an offering to God, the contrast in the quality of the contents of the basket makes all the difference as it reflects one’s attitude towards God.
For us: We can offer different things to God, our time, talent, finances, love. But the act of bringing forth an offering alone is not what God is after because He sees the heart and the devotion behind it.
God goes on to explain to Jeremiah that the good figs represent those that have been taken captive to Babylon, and the bad figs are the ones who remain in Jerusalem.
Contrary to what one would assume of the first exiles, that being taken captive first would place them in a worse position, they were the ones who were removed by God and thereby did not remain in Jerusalem while it endured God’s judgement.
The good figs were those who were faithful to God, they were the ones God was going to restore to the land.
For us: Similar to those exiles, often when we feel like we are in a bad place and things just went from bad to worse, although we do not see it yet, God is very much working in those situations to lift us out of that valley and set our feet upon a rock again. We are to stay faithful to Him through it all.
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of all those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
I really like what David Guzik says “Judgement upon a nation or community means that all endure some suffering, even those who are faithful to God through it. But God knows the difference between those who were caught up in the judgement and those who brought down the judgement.”
God’s thoughts and ways are indeed not our thoughts and ways. Even when the exiles probably entertained notions that God had turned away from them, He was working for them, ensuring that they did not experience his catastrophic judgement on Jerusalem. And God not only protected them then, but was right there planning not only to restore them in His time but also that He would bless them during the time of their exile.
In Jeremiah 24: 6-7 we read “My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.”
We see a promise of physical restoration when God says that he will build them up and plant them. But we also see a promise of spiritual restoration, when God says that He will give them the desire to know Him and that they would return to Him and follow Him with all of their heart. Their devotion to God will not be fragmented but wholehearted.
We read on in Jeremiah 29, that God did not plan for them to just wait on their time for restoration but they were to live their lives to the full while they waited. Their time in captivity was bound not to be easy but the Lord’s hand on them would make it possible to overcome those challenges.
Jeremiah 29:4-7 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
For us: This is such a picture of promise, hope and restoration. A reminder that in the worst of situations, He still is our God, He has a plan for us, He never forsakes us, He is working for us in the midst of those valley moments and most importantly He is not just our God when things are going well but He is very much our Sovereign Lord in ALL situations.
If anyone is in a period of waiting on God, like the people in captivity waiting upon God to restore them, we wait with an anticipation and expectation and continue to live our lives that way. He does not expect our life to be on a standstill but we keep on living, faithfully to Him, because we trust in His ways, His plans and His purposes for us.
In Jeremiah 29: 11 God says about the exiles “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.”
As we looked at this passage of scripture, we are reminded to reflect on what kind of offering we are to God, would we be good figs or bad ones. Do we hold onto God through every distraction thrown at us, through all challenging situations? Those good figs were the ones who were surrounded by many who stubbornly followed their own evil hearts and rebelled against God. Feels like a very parallel representation of times today, but in the midst of it all, they remained faithful and as God says “As the good figs, I regard them as good (Jeremiah 24:5).”
May we choose God every day, choose to be faithful to Him and perseverant through our days.