This is a repost from Jefferson Bethke’s devotional:
You might know this verse, maybe you have it on a coffee mug or a plaque above your desk with these words:
“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 verse is super encouraging, but a lot of people take it out of context and apply is to their college or their job or the person they want to date. We declare our plans to God and say, “Ok God, I know you have plans for my good so work my plans for welfare and not for evil.”
But the problem is that we can’t take this verse out of the context of the paragraph, the chapter, and the book it’s in. Jeremiah was talking to the Kingdom of Judah, calling to them to repent and turn back to God.
This specific verse was a declaration to the people of Judah. They were in exile. Their national identity and their temple were under attack. And Jeremiah reminds them that God does care for them.
The verse right before 11 says:
“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.”
In these two verses, God is saying, “It’s not ok right now, but it’s going to get better.”
So Does This Apply to Us at All?
Two things I wanted to share with you guys.
1) When we tell God our plans, we miss what God is doing
If we make God into our own personal genie, tell him what we want and just expect him to do it, then we get disappointed and feel like God wronged us. God is working in our lives, but if we’re too concerned with our plan then we aren’t seeing how God is working things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
2) The True Promise Is Jesus Christ
The other place in the Bible where Jeremiah is mentioned is Daniel 9. Daniel is at the end of the 70-year promise and he prays to God asking if they’re at the end of the prophesy. But God answers Daniel, telling him,
“Seventy sevens are decreed about your people and your holy city,
to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity,
to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet,
and to anoint a most holy place.”
In Hewbew, seventy sevens kinda means 70×7. The true restoration of Israel and the temple would come 490 years later—the birth of Jesus.
The promise of Jeremiah 29:11 is delivered in Jesus Christ. He is our welfare, he is our riches, he is our hope, and he is our temple, where heaven and earth meet. He died on the cross so we could truly know God.
So if you enjoy Jeremiah 29:11, you can take that promise for you in Jesus Christ, that we can dwell in him and his grace.