Connections 11.20.2022: A Promise of Home

Jeremiah 23:1-8

Imagine being exiled away from your homeland—from all you know, all that feels familiar, all that makes you comfortable. When you reach your destination, you encounter people who speak a different language, believe in different religious ideals or none at all, celebrate different holidays, wear different kinds of clothing, and have different ways of behaving in society. Their popular culture is nothing like yours. You don’t know their inside jokes, can’t comprehend their senses of humor, and find it impossible to connect with them. None of them want you there. You are an outsider in every way.

God’s people had spent many decades in exile. Some of them were able to settle and find a new life. Some of them, no doubt, always wished to return to their homeland. This exile was their punishment for turning away from God. But as the years passed, new children were born and grew up who had no part in the sin that sent their families into exile. Eventually, God allowed them to go home. It took a while, though, and they needed a word of hope to remind them that God had their best interests at heart.

In our passage from Jeremiah, God delivers that word of hope, promising to punish bad leaders who have harmed God’s people when they should have cared for them. God will attend to those leaders for their “evil doings.” And then, God says, “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall no longer fear or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing” (vv. 2-4).

We all want vengeance when we feel mistreated. Sometimes that is justified, and other times it is selfish. This word from God indicates that God feels vengeance is justified against the leaders who destroyed and scattered God’s people (v. 1). When they heard this word of hope from Jeremiah, the people of God must have felt comforted and vindicated. God was on their side. Not only that: God promised to send a new and better kind of king—“a righteous Branch” named for the righteousness of the Lord (vv. 5-6). Christians view this Branch as Jesus Christ, but even the people who lived and died centuries before Jesus’s time could find great hope in these words. God would bring them home!


• Can you think of modern examples of exile? How is it used to punish? Do you think it is effective?
• Can you think of modern examples where people must leave their homelands because of what is happening there? How could their lives in their new destinations feel like exile?
• What feelings/emotions would be common in exile?
• When have you or people you know experienced similar feelings/emotions in your own kind of exile?
• How do God’s words of hope in Jeremiah speak to you today? How can they speak to others who are in exile—either literally or spiritually?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.


For further resources, subscribe to the Connections Teaching Guide and Commentary. Additionally, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series is a scholarly but accessible means for enhancing your study of each lesson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email