The Old Testament book of Habakkuk speaks to two of the most fundamental questions of the Christian faith: 1) How long will God let His people suffer? and 2) Why should we keep believing Him if we’re not spared the tragedies of life?
The period of the divided kingdom ended with the people of Israel being taken into captivity. First, the people of the northern kingdom were conquered by Assyria, leaving Judah to struggle on alone. Finally, the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, leaving all the children of Israel in exile from the land. Here is an overview and timeline of the exile of Israel and her return from captivity.
Jeremiah 29:1-14 is addressed to people from Jerusalem who have already been deported to Babylon but before Jerusalem itself has been completely destroyed. These people want to escape. They want the exile to end and they want to get back home. Jeremiah writes the letter in this chapter to set them straight. Surprisingly, he doesn’t tell them how to escape; instead he tells them how to endure. What do we do while we await the not-yet? What’s there to do in Babylon?