The following post is the second in a series called “Bible-ish.” This series is designed to help bring light to passages of Scripture that are often taken out of context.
“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Wow! Could there be a better verse for anyone to grab hold of and apply to their life than this verse? There is a lot of comfort in knowing that God has a plan for my life, that He is concerned about my welfare, and that He doesn’t want me to be destroyed. God wants to give me a future and a hope. While all of these principles are true, the reality is that this verse doesn’t support those claims. Well, it doesn’t support those specific claims for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 has been one of the most misused verses in all of Scripture. When you do an internet search for verses used out of context this verse will almost always make the top ten list. Most people want to take this verse and use it to support a theology that teaches prosperity and safety in the Christian life. The problem with that thought pattern is God never promised us prosperity, and He definitely did not promise us safety! The Christian life is not a life of promised prosperity and safety; it is a life of taking up our cross and following Jesus daily.
To understand the meaning of this verse you must look at it in its context. When you read verses 1-4 you will see at least four specific references to whom this letter was written. The context is the prophet Jeremiah writing a letter to the exiles that are in Babylon. In verse 4 Jeremiah states specifically that this letter was written to the exiles that were deported from Jerusalem to Babylon. As Jeremiah speaks to the people on behalf of God, there were several things that God wanted the exiles to know. One was that He was the one who sent them there. They were not there by mistake or coincidence, they were there because God had sent them there. Second, He wanted them to know that they would be there for a while. He told them to build houses, plant gardens and have families. Third, He wanted them to seek work for the prosperity of Babylon. Even to the point of praying for Babylon. Fourth, He warned them about listening to messages that said they would be delivered soon. God said that those who would speak in such a way were not from Him.
So in the midst of His message to the exiles, He wants to make sure that they knew He had their back. Yes you are in a tough situation, yes you are living among your enemies, yes I have asked you to settle down, to establish homes and to even pray for your enemies; but in all of that I have plans for you. I have not forgotten you. I am not sitting back and watching you be overtaken by your enemies, I have a plan! And my plan for you is for your welfare and your hope. The plan was that they would be allowed to go back to Jerusalem and eventually rebuild the walls, the temple, and prepare for the coming Messiah. God’s plan for their welfare, future and hope was found in Jesus.
All of that to say, does God have a plan for my life? Is God concerned about my welfare? Does God want me to have a future and a hope? Yes He does, and His name is Jesus!