Monday, June 21, 2010

Recovering Abused Bible Verses (Part 5) - Jeremiah 29:11

4. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

This lame video also has very lame handling of Scripture. It is very common these days to see professing Christians treating the Bible like a smorgasbord. People like to pick the verses that they like and claim them as their own personal verse. And Jeremiah 29:11 would have to be at the top of this category! But reading it in its context and wider context we learn that this is a part of a particular message, to a particular people, at a particular time, in a particular situation. What was the situation of Jeremiah 29:11?

Israel had been taken by the Babylonians into captivity. The temple is in ruins and the king has had his eyes cut out. The glory of Israel as a nation is finished. But in the midst of this terrible situation – God speaks.

4"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. 10"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. 11For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14I 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. 15"Because you have said, 'The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,' 16thus says the LORD concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your kinsmen who did not go out with you into exile: 17'Thus says the LORD of hosts, behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs that are so rotten they cannot be eaten. 18I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, (Jeremiah 29:4-18)

We could spend all day talking about this but I’ll give just a few points to consider:

1.Why do people think they can claim verse 11 as their own but decide that verses 17 and 18 don’t apply to them?
2.When God speaks in verse 11 remember that verse 4 shows us that He has His foot on their neck while He is saying it.
3.The people receiving the promise in verse 11 will not even live to see it’s fulfillment (it will take 70 years).
4.The reason Israel was in Babylonian slavery was because that they spent their time listening to prophets who told them things they liked to hear.

It is foolish to read Jeremiah 29:11 as a personal message from God to us as individuals. But there is something far greater that we learn from this story in its true context:

That God does not abandon His people!

As this series concludes in my next post, I hope you will see the overarching message from the true meaning of these abused Bible verses.

In Part 2 we learned that:

Jesus did not come to condemn because this world is already condemned under the wrath of God.

In Part 3 we learned that:

The kindness of God is shown in that He delays His wrath giving sinners time to repent.

In Part 4 we learned that:

Two or more of us gathering in God's Name for the purposes of church discipline gives those of us in the church confidence that we have Divine authority to deal with unrepentant sin within our camp.

In today's post we see that:

The major message to 21st century Christians from Jeremiah 29:11 is that God does not abandon His people!

Concludes on Wednesday - Part 6: When Jesus talks about how difficult it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, is he speaking of the gate to a city or . . . the eye of a needle?

Go On To Part 6
Go Back To Part 4
Go Back To Part 1


Cameron Buettel said...

Jeremiah 29:11 has become like a default verse for counselling.

Anonymous said...

I see your point, but God DOES know the plans He has for us, and DOES want us to prosper... all of us. As individuals. Why else would He come to die on earth, paying the penalty for all of our sins?