Jeremiah 29:11

Once again, I saw someone who took Jeremiah 29:11 out of context, so I thought I would post it here within the context in which God spoke those words:

 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29:10-14.

These words were spoken by God to the prophet, Jeremiah, who then wrote them down in a letter to be delivered to the exiles who were in Babylonian captivity through the sovereign providence of God.  King Zedekiah, who was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to be his representative in Judah, decided to turn and rebel against Nebuchadnezzar and in turn, Nebuchadnezzar seized Jerusalem and took many Israelites into captivity.  This was God’s judgment upon Israel for their idolatry and rebellion against Him.  They would be held captive for 70 years, but then He would fulfill the promise He made to them that He would visit them after those 70 years and would return them to their homeland and restore to them all they had lost.  That was God’s plan for Israel and it was prophesied in earlier Old Testament writings.

In the original Hebrew, the verse reads, “plans for peace, not of evil.”  The Hebrew word for “peace”, of course, is Shalom.  The main definition of “Shalom” is  “completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace.”  Some translations use “peace”, some use the term “welfare” and others use the term “prosper”.  Now, if we think in American terms, to “prosper” means to have financial and material wealth.  Another definition is to “flourish physically; grow strong and healthy”.  I believe we need to use the original term “peace” so that we can get the true meaning of the verse.  So, is this peace referring to peace from war?  All you have to do is look at the news every day and see that’s not the case.  Or does this have a spiritual meaning in that they will have peace with God?  I say it’s a spiritual peace because we know there hasn’t been much earthly peace in Israel since they became a nation.  The peace Christ gives is peace between man and God, not between nations.

What about Israel’s “future and a hope”?  God made a covenant with Abraham that was made up of three parts:  (1) The promise of land; (2) The promise of descendants; and (3) The promise of blessing and redemption.  I believe in Jeremiah 29:10-11, we see God keeping all three promises.  First, the promise of the land.  He gave the Israelites the Promised Land and He was not going to take that away.  He was going to send them back after the 70 years was up.  Their future and their hope was in the promise of descendants and the promise of blessings and redemption because it was through Abraham’s descendants (future) that the Messiah (Blessing and Hope) would come and bring redemption not only to Israel, but to the Gentiles.

So, while we believe that God has a plan for each of our lives, this particular verse is speaking directly to Israel who was in captivity and God was reminding them that He had not forgotten them.  He would still keep His covenant and give their land back to them and they still had a future and a hope, but at that particular moment, they would have to remain in captivity as judgment for turning their backs on Him.

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