Shortly after Lehi and Nephi left Jerusalem the Babylonians swept through the Holy Land, destroyed the country, and took captive the most able and talented Jews. During this time the prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter in the name of the Lord to instruct and encourage the exiles.
The letter reads:
“To all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord. For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon's seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:4-11 NRSV).
I love this letter and like to read it as if it were a letter from God to me. After all I am an exile from my heavenly home and am wandering in this strange, foreign place of adversity and trial. When one understands the symbolism in the letter, this reading is even more poignant. While there is no agreement on the translation, some scholars believe the name Jerusalem means “founded peaceful” and it is symbolically a Promised Land or Holy Land. In contrast the name Babylon comes from the word babel and is known as a city of materialism and sensual pleasure–symbolically the telestial world we live in. In addition the numbers seven, seventy, or seven hundred are all symbols of completion or perfection.
Therefore, in "my" letter the Lord is telling me three things. (1) Make the best of whatever situation I am in. As an exile from heaven, I should build, plant, do what I can to create goodness where ever I am for in doing so I will be happy. (2) I should never pay attention to the false teachers and others in Babylon who are trying to lead me astray. (3) I should never give up hope because when the time of trial and testing is completed, when I have learned what I am supposed to learn, God will rescue me. He has wonderful plans for me. Nothing I encounter will harm me. Instead the Lord is planning for my welfare and to give me a future with hope.