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Jeremiah 29:11 is such a popular verse amongst many believers. It is read, liked and held onto because of what it declares. People are encouraged and naturally want to believe that God has great things in store for them. They also want to believe that their future is going to be filled with hope and look ever so bright. After all, isn’t optimism the route to being a more positive person?
However, this verse is one of the most misused and misquoted verses in the entire Bible. It requires that we dig a little deeper and read it in context of what is happening both historically and spiritually during the time of its origination.
The prophet Jeremiah has a message for the exiled Judeans. The message is presented around 597 BC while the Judeans are being held captive in Babylon. The exiled community is under judgement due to their ever growing sinful ways and God’s backslidden people are being called to live amongst the heathens as a witness of God’s grace.
Jeremiah tells the people that after 70 years of exile, they will return to their own land. This will all be the accomplishment of God as His people seek Him, turn back from their wicked ways and love Him and Him alone wholeheartedly. Not only will God bring back those who are exiled but He will also bring back those whom have been scattered elsewhere.
This particular prophecy is one with fulfillment to come both in the long term and in the short term. The long term fulfillment refers to Christ coming back for the nation of Israel and the short term deals with the time period around 597 BC.
Further, around the time of 597 BC, Jeremiah tells the people to settle down where they are at, he also tells them to not listen to false teaching or false prophets, and that their wait will be 70 years. God is thinking of them. The future of God’s people in exile rests on God’s gracious promise. His promise is plans of prosperity and “shalom-peace.” This plan is predicted based only on the people turning away from their wicked ways, seeking God with their whole heart and turning back to their first love.
Fast forward to today and we see that Jeremiah’s prophecy bares the same message just with a slightly different bent based on our current times.
1 John 4:16 says “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” This Scripture tells us exactly how He feels about us. God loves us!
Since we know that God loves us so much and abides in those of us who put our faith in Him, we can also follow the same line of thinking shared by the prophet Jeremiah. He has plans for us, plans to prosper us, not harm us, and plans to give us a future and a hope. But this does not mean that God is a vending machine and is going to give us what we wish, when we want it.
God, in His divine holiness and incredible love for us, created us to be His greatest masterpiece. He knows what we need and has plans for us that go far beyond what we could ever hope or imagine on our own without Him. This is why we can trust that He has our greater good in mind.
As we read the words of Jeremiah, let the assurance of His words sink in. This blessed promise still holds true today even though we are not currently a people in exile. 2,600 years later we can still read this verse and cling to the words of the prophet, all while keeping the correct context in mind.
For He knows the plans He has for us. Plans of a great future spent with His Son Jesus. There is no better promise to hold on to.
Be blessed by this assurance friends.