Jeremiah is given a message by God to speak to the people who are in exile. He tells them to basically get used to your surroundings. Do not pay attention to any priest or anyone who says that they come in the name of the Lord and then tells you that pretty soon this time of captivity where Babylon is your master and you are the slave, is going to be over. Rather, go ahead and build strong houses and gardens and plan on having kids and probably grandkids, and you will need to prepare a tombstone and just basically make this place your home. Also, say nice things about the people who are in power, even if you are their slaves. He says in vs.7: “Seek the welfare of the city.”
Keep in mind this is the city in which they are currently living which is a strange and foreign city in a strange and foreign land. They are in Babylon and Jeremiah tells them that they are going to be there for at least another 70 years. As you would imagine the priests who were puppets back in Jerusalem hear about this and are furious because they think the time will pass quickly and want Jeremiah to be quiet about what he is saying. What gives him the right to preach doom and gloom?
Jeremiah has an adversary in the priestly ranks and that is Shemaiah of Nehelam who has prophesied that Jeremiah is a madman whose words should not be taken seriously. He has told the high priest, Zephaniah, to rebuke Jeremiah. Jeremiah, on his account, tells the high priest that God just told him that this Shemaiah and his descendants shall not have anyone living among his people. They will all die because he has lied that this time in Babylon will be short. It will not be short. Make yourself comfortable.
Now, the most popular words in this chapter are seen in vs.11 where we read: “For surely I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Notice that they currently were in a position where their only future was on that was incredibly bleak. There was no hope as they were exiles. But God promises that their future will be one of hope.