Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. — Jeremiah 24:5
“Go and play somewhere else,” my dad firmly told us young children as he prepared to do a weld on some heavy machinery in his shop. “The arc from the welder will burn your eyes.” We probably didn’t fully understand the danger to our eyes, but we were not slow in leaving the shop. Dad never wasted words: if he told us to get moving, we knew it was necessary for our own good, not merely to get us out from under his feet.
All of the kids in the homes around the farm were curious about what happened in Dad’s shop. A large building that housed his work trucks, it was filled with all kinds of interesting tools and machinery. If we had a problem with a toy, bicycle, or household item, we took it out to Dad’s shop, and he would find a way to repair it. However, if a situation was potentially dangerous, we were not left in doubt as to whether we should be around. Dad loved his children, and he had our safety at heart. He never hesitated to let us know when it was time for us to stay out of the way.
In today’s text, the basket of “good figs” represented the people of Judah who had been carried away captive into Babylon. Although they did not choose to be exiled in a strange land, God said that submitting to what He had ordained would ultimately be for their good. Though many years would elapse, He promised to preserve the exiles and eventually bring them again into their own land.
From time to time in our Christian walk, we awaken to the understanding that we have been preserved or shielded from danger in a way that is miraculous. We suddenly know that God has taken control of a situation and kept us from grave physical injury or spiritual defeat. Other times we are providentially absent from a bad situation by God’s great design. Our loving Heavenly Father has worked for our protection.
At other times, we will face challenges — physically, emotionally, financially, or in some other way. We may not understand why these challenges have come along. However, in these times too, we can look to our Heavenly Father and remind ourselves that He has only our good in mind.
God holds the reins of our lives, and we can be certain that He will take care of all the details. Unlike rebellious Judah, He has helped us to know Him, and to understand that we are His people. We can rest in the assurance that He is a good God, and that everything that comes our way will ultimately be for our good as we continue to trust in Him and obey His instructions.
Chapter 24, Jeremiah’s eleventh sermon or discourse, is based upon the prophet’s vision of two baskets of figs. Jeremiah had previously declared that those who submitted to Nebuchadnezzar and captivity would do so to their own benefit, while those who resisted and remained in Jerusalem would do so to their own peril. The good figs seen by Jeremiah represented the Jews who were captives in Babylon, while the bad figs symbolized those who had stayed in Judah and had neglected to worship God.
When these Scriptures were given, Jeremiah had been prophesying to a largely non-responsive audience for more than twenty years. In 597 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar’s armies had invaded Judah and taken captive King Jehoiachin (also called Jeconiah and Coniah), many of the nobles, and those proficient in trades that would be beneficial to building up the Babylonian Empire.
Through Jeremiah, God told those captive in Babylon that His design for them was for their ultimate good, even though they had to experience some disciplinary action before they would receive the benefit. In this chapter, Jeremiah let the captives know that God sent them to Babylon to preserve them, and those who remained in Judah would suffer for their spiritual adultery with the heathen nations around them. They would be scattered, and some of their families would be scorned and cursed among the populations where they settled. Eventually, none of them would inhabit the land of their inheritance.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The pronouncement of judgment against Judah
A. The condemnation of the prophet
11. The eleventh sermon: The two baskets of figs (24:1-10)
a. The vision (24:1-3)
b. The interpretation (24:4-10)
(1) The good figs (24:4-7)
(2) The bad figs (24:8-10)
Although we may not always understand the circumstances that come our way, if our trust is in the Lord, we can be assured that He has our best interests at heart and is working for our good.