Jeremiah 29:1 the letter… to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive
Jerusalem was really conquered in 3 stages.
1. Stage I: In the 11th year of the reign of Jehoiakim (Eliakim), Nebuchadnezzar came against him and took 3000 captives including Ezekiel, took many of the vessels of the house of the Lord and put them in a temple in Babylon, and killed Jehoiakim the king. He established his son, Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) instead. (2 Chron. 36:7; Josephus, Antiquities, Book X, 6:3)
2. Stage II: 3.5 months later, Nebuchadnezzar came against Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) who he had just put in as king. He bound him to take him to Babylon with 10,832 more captives and then ransacked the temple, “And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord.” (2 Kings 24:13-15; Josephus, Antiquities, Book X, 7:1)
3. Stage III: 11th year of Zedekiah, temple is destroyed and the rest of the Jews are taken to Babylon. Only the poorest people are left to till the land. Zedekiah’s eyes are put out and he is taken to Babylon.
This letter of Jeremiah is not long after Zedekiah has been made king—between stages II and III. Almost 14,000 Jews, including Ezekiel, had already been taken to Babylon. The Lord had a message for them, “Don’t think you will see Jerusalem any time soon. You’re not going home.” It must have been depressing news for the captives.
Jeremiah 29:5 build ye houses, and dwell in them
"In Jeremiah 29 we find a letter in which Jeremiah delivered the word of the Lord to those already in exile in Babylon. To the exiles the Lord said, 'Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them' (Jer. 29:5), all language reminiscent of Jeremiah's call 'to build, and to plant' (Jer. 1:10). The point is that the Exile would be long, and therefore the people should live their lives, taking husbands and wives and begetting sons and daughters, with an understanding that Babylon would be home for them. In part this letter was a response to those false prophets in Babylon who apparently were raising the hopes of the people for a quick return (Jer. 27:7-9). The Lord even noted that two of those false prophets of the Exile would be turned over to Nebuchadnezzar and killed (Jer. 29:21). In a real sense, the scattering of Israel that had begun on a large scale with the deportation of the Northern Kingdom in the eighth century was being continued. Jeremiah's letter served to remind exiled Judah that though they should not become part of the world, they should learn to live in the world." (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 205 - 206)
Jeremiah 29:10 after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you... in causing you to return to this place
George Albert Smith
When Cyrus was about fifty years of age, after subduing many peoples and small nations, he appeared with his army before Babylon, the then greatest of all cities, with its impregnable walls, three hundred feet high, and its mighty gates of iron and brass. Instead of attacking the walls, he diverted the Euphrates River that flowed through the city and used the channel under the walls by which to enter Babylon. He captured the city without difficulty, while Belshazzar, the king, with his courtiers were drinking themselves drunk and desecrating the sacred vessels of the house of the Lord which his father, Nebuchadnezzar, had brought from Jerusalem.
Within the city, Cyrus found the Hebrew prophet, Daniel, who had already interpreted the handwriting on the wall, having informed Belshazzar that he had been "weighed in the balance and found wanting" (Dan. 5:27). Having access to the Jewish records, Cyrus learned that the God of Israel had decreed that he was to rebuild Jerusalem. He promptly issued a proclamation to the Jews to return to Jerusalem and for the nations to assist them in rebuilding the city and the temple. This was accomplished exactly seventy years after Jerusalem was destroyed, thus fulfilling Jeremiah's prophecy uttered more than one hundred years before. (Conference Report, April 1945, pp. 135-139)
Jeremiah 29:13 ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart
James E. Faust
Jeremiah counsels us to pray with all our heart and soul. Enos recounted how his soul had hungered and that he had prayed all the day long. (Enos 1:4) Prayers vary in their intensity. Even the Savior "prayed more earnestly" in His hour of agony. Some are simple expressions of appreciation and requests for a continuation of blessings on our loved ones and us. However, in times of great personal hurt or need, more may be required than mere asking. The Lord said, "You have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me." (D&C 9:7) Blessings sought through prayer sometimes require work, effort, and diligence on our part. (Ensign, May 2002, 59)
Thomas S. Monson
The formula for finding Jesus has always been and ever will be the same-the earnest and sincere prayer of a humble and pure heart. The prophet Jeremiah counseled, "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jer. 29:13.)
Before we can successfully undertake a personal search for Jesus, we must first prepare time for him in our lives and room for him in our hearts. In these busy days there are many who have time for golf, time for shopping, time for work, time for play-but no time for Christ.
Lovely homes dot the land and provide rooms for eating, rooms for sleeping, playrooms, sewing rooms, television rooms, but no room for Christ.
Do we get a pang of conscience as we recall his own words: "The foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Matt. 8:20.) Or do we flush with embarrassment when we remember, "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7.) No room. No room. No room. Ever has it been. ("The Search for Jesus," Ensign, Dec. 1990, 4-5)
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Since "God is love," the closer we approach Him, the more profoundly we experience love. But because a veil separates this mortality from our heavenly home, we must seek in the Spirit that which is imperceptible to mortal eyes.
Heaven may seem distant at times, but the scriptures offer hope: "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
However, seeking God with all our hearts implies much more than simply offering a prayer or pronouncing a few words inviting God into our lives. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." (1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6) We can make a great production of saying that we know God. We can proclaim publicly that we love Him. Nevertheless, if we don't obey Him, all is in vain, for "he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:4)
We increase our love for our Heavenly Father and demonstrate that love by aligning our thoughts and actions with God's word. His pure love directs and encourages us to become more pure and holy. It inspires us to walk in righteousness-not out of fear or obligation but out of an earnest desire to become even more like Him because we love Him. By doing so, we can become "born again ... [and] cleansed by blood, even the blood of [the] Only Begotten; that [we] might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory." (Moses 6:59)
My dear brothers and sisters, don't get discouraged if you stumble at times. Don't feel downcast or despair if you don't feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ at all times. The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible-and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you. ("The Love of God," Ensign, Nov 2009, 21-24)
Jeremiah 29:14 I will gather you from all nations and from all the places wither I have driven you
The return of the Jews from Babylon after a 70-year captivity is a type for the return of Israel in the last days. By the hand of God, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and built a temple. In the latter days, the Jews have returned to Jerusalem. Like in the days of Cyrus the Persian, the Jews will need to build another temple in Jerusalem. During a trip to the Holy Land in April of 2015, the author was surprised to learn that the Jews have already started to build the third temple. Without access to the Temple Mount, they are simply building the inner components of the temple so that when they have access to the holy site, they are ready to go. They have built already the altar of incense, the table of showbread, the candlestick (or menorah), and many vessels, harps and lyres. See the http://www.templeinstitute.org.
Jeremiah 29:17 I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence
Ezra Taft Benson
Now the prophecies are very clear with reference to the dispersion and scattering of Israel and Judas. Moses, Ezekiel, Amos, Jeremiah, and others made clear predictions that Judah would be scattered. The Master referred to it when asked by his disciples for a sign as to the end of the world. The Lord said,
And they [referring to the Jews] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:24).
Jeremiah made it clear that they, the Jews, would be persecuted with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence and that the Lord would
. . . deliver them to be removed to all kingdoms of the earth to be a curse, and an astonishment, and a hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them:
Because they have not hearkened to my word, saith the Lord (Jer. 29:18-19).
Is it possible that the times of the Gentiles are nearing their fulfillment, that the time is approaching when the gospel will be carried to the descendants of Judah? I think one of the saddest chapters in history is the account of the dispersion and suffering of Judah.
I have before me a quotation of Will Durant in his book, The Story of Civilization, in which he states that "no people in history fought so tenaciously for liberty as the Jews, nor any other people against such odds." He says further, "No other people has ever known so long an exile, or so hard a fate."
Then referring to the siege of Jerusalem under Titus, lasting for 134 days, during which 1,110,000 Jews perished and 97,000 were taken captive: he states that the Romans destroyed 987 towns in Palestine and slew 580,000 men, and a still larger number, we are told, perished through starvation, disease, and fire.
Nearly all Judea was laid waste. So many Jews were sold as slaves that their price fell to that of a horse. Thousands hid in underground channels rather than be captured. Surrounded by Romans they died one by one of hunger while the living ate the bodies of the dead.
Scarcely eight thousand Jews were left in all of Palestine. And even their banishment and scattering didn't end their persecution. Efforts were made to drive them from various countries. Some nations made an effort to banish them completely. They were accused of causing the "Black Death" that spread through Europe in 1348, and many Jews were crucified therefore.
I have said nothing regarding the Crusades and the dastardly deeds perpetrated in the name of Christianity upon the remaining Jews in Palestine. Yes, the prophecies regarding the dispersion and the suffering of Judah have been fulfilled. But the gathering and reestablishment of the Jews is also clearly predicted. (Conference Report, April 1950, pp. 71-79)
Jeremiah 29:20-32 The False Prophets of the Captivity
1. Ahab, not to be confused with wicked king Ahab (1 Kgs. 16:29-33), was a false prophet of Jeremiah’s day. He sinned as a false prophet and an adulterer. Though the fulfillment of the prophecy is not recorded, we have no reason to doubt that he was taken by Nebuchadnezzar and roasted in a fire before the people. Apparently Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were not the first Jews to be thrown into a Babylonian fire.
2. Zedekiah, not to be confused with the reigning king Zedekiah, was another false prophet of Jeremiah’s day. His sin was to lie to the people as a false prophet and adulterer. Though the fulfillment of the prophecy is not recorded, we have no reason to doubt that he was taken by Nebuchadnezzar and roasted in a fire before the people.
3. Shemaiah, a third false prophet, thought he could convince the priests that there should be a change of the guard, that Zephaniah (not to be confused with the righteous prophet Zephaniah) should be established as the compliance officer of the temple, and that he should take all the righteous prophets, including Jeremiah, and put them in prison or the stocks. He did not get roasted in a fire, but his posterity is cursed.