God Has a Plan for You

When we take Bible verses out of context, we run the risk of misinterpreting the author's intent. Jeremiah 29:11 is one such verse. It suggests that God has plans to bless us, and indeed He does. However, we must stay mindful of the fact that sometimes God's timetable is very different from ours. So then, with this in mind, how should we interpret and apply Jeremiah 29:11 to our lives?

by William L. Nowell

I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for shalom [peace/security/ prosperity], and not for harm, plans to give you a future filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

A New Year's Blessing?

At the turn of each New Year, well-wishers send greetings to friends and family for a blessed and prosperous new year. Oftentimes these New Year's greetings include Bible verses. Jeremiah 29:11 is especially popular at this time of the year. But is it really appropriate for a New Year's Day greeting card? Before we answer that question, we ought to put Jeremiah 29:11 in context to avoid misinterpreting the prophetic message. Context matters!

First, understand that Jeremiah's prophecy was given to the Israelites who, though exiled to Babylon, longed to return home. At the time, a false prophet by the name of Hananiah misled the people into believing they would return to Jerusalem within two years. However, Jeremiah, a true prophet of God, foresaw a very different timeline.

When we put Jeremiah 29:11 in context, we quickly discover that it is not a promise of immediate blessing. Quite the contrary! Jeremiah told the exiles to build houses, settle down, find spouses for their sons and daughters, etc. In other words, they weren't going anywhere anytime soon. In addition, they were to work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Also, they were to pray for the city because if the city prospered, then they likewise would prosper. (See Jeremiah 29:4-7)

1 Timothy 2:2

Jeremiah's prophecy was not at all what the exiles wanted to hear. However, the final blow, the knockout punch, comes in verse 10 where Jeremiah tells them that they will spend another 70 years, essentially a lifetime, in exile. Though their descendants would return to Jerusalem, most of them would die in captivity. So now with the context of Jeremiah 29:11 in mind, I have to ask, “Is this really the sentiment you want to put on a greeting card”?

Is Jeremiah's Prophecy For Us?

Perhaps Jeremiah 29:11 is not the best choice for a New Year's Day greeting card, but is there an application for us today? I think there is. We know that Jeremiah prophesied a future filled with hope. For the Israelites in Jeremiah's day, that meant returning to Jerusalem. But today, we have a hope that is far superior to anything envisioned by the prophet Jeremiah.

First, we must understand the biblical definition of hope. Biblical hope is not merely wishful thinking. On the contrary, it is the confident expectation and assurance we have based on the sure foundation of the Word of God. And because of the finished work of our Savior, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20) where Yeshua (Jesus) has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3). And ultimately, we look forward to spending eternity with our Savior in the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:10, 22) Yeshua is our guarantee of an incredible future complete with an everlasting hope.

Need a replacement for your Jeremiah 29:11 greeting? Well, don't be discouraged. With over 31,000 verses in the Bible, there must be something that fits. Seek and you will find. LOL

“May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” (Psalm 20:4) - Happy New Year!

Three Crosses