Bent Out Of Shape – Jeremiah 29.11

“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”

(Jeremiah 29.11)

How often do we see this verse attached to a beautiful vista on some kind of social media? Something like this, perhaps: 

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with reading passages in the Old Testament and seeing the principle that is in play and applying it to your own life…but that is not often what happens, is it? In fact, more than saying ‘there is nothing wrong with…’, I’d actually say that it is a great thing to do: when reading the Old Testament, when reading of those living under the Old Covenant, see what is happening, see what principles are in play, see how God is moving among them and with them and for them, then think how that looks in your life now. Don’t, however, pull a sentence out of a paragraph, out of a chapter, out of a book, out of a wider part of the Bible, and assume you can copy-paste the English words into your own life. Context is so important.

Let’s think about Jeremiah 29.11 for a moment:

“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”

First, it begins with the word for, which is a bit of a giveaway. For is a marker that shows relationships between sentences . Straight away then, we know that v.11 is connected to v.10

What does v.10 say?

 “For the LORD says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you. Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore you to your homeland.”

Ok, so when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over…I will fulfill my gracious promise to you…restore you to your homeland. That’s not us, is it? 

But wait, v.10 also began with for, so what does the preceding passage say? From v.4 of Jeremiah 29, we see the Lord giving a message to all those sent into exile to Babylon from Jerusalem about how they should live whilst there (vv.4-7). Not us, is it? Then, in vv.8-10, we see a countering of false teaching that was spreading in the community: ‘Don’t worry…we won’t be there long…we’ll be heading home before you know it…’. Jeremiah says no, only when the seventy…(v.10).

So, Jeremiah 29.11 is a wonderful verse filled with hope for those who were heading into Babylonian exile. It tells them that the Lord has not forgotten about them and will not forget about them. It tells them that this uncomfortable and reconciliatory season they were about to enter was not going to last forever. The Lord, through Jeremiah, goes on to say that when the people call out to Him, they will find Him (vv.12-13) and that, ultimately, He will reverse their plight and will take them back to their homeland soon enough (v.14).

*

So, Jeremiah 29.11

It’s not for you when you have a bad start to the day. 

It’s not for you when you’re feeling a little fuzzy about what to do next week, or month, or year.

It’s not a universal promise that good things are just around the corner.

It is, however, a wonderful example of the faithfulness of God. Despite people having turned away from Him in heart and mind (Jeremiah 25.8-14) He still had plans for them, still loved them, still wanted what was best for them. That, then, is what should come to mind when we read 

“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

2 thoughts on “Bent Out Of Shape – Jeremiah 29.11

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