Jeremiah 29:11 is a very famous verse. You may have it in a picture frame or T-shirt, maybe it is underlined in your bible. The verse says, 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 to give you a hope.
Many people use that verse, out of context, to say this is the college I want to go to or this the boyfriend or girlfriend or this is the job I want. Those are my plans and now God declares that we will prosper. We don’t understand that we are making ourselves central not God. The first thing you must understand is we can’t just take one verse out and put it on our Facebook and Twitter without looking at the narrative. What’s going on, what’s it trying to say, who’s the author, when was it written, stuff like that.
The fact that I think sometimes we take verses that God meant for specific people at a specific time and then we wrench it out of its context. For example, if a King was to say you know thousands of years ago you know that everyone in this land gets mars bars, 2000 years later if we saw that in the history books we read that and say yes that means I get a mars bar right now. That doesn’t make sense. Why, because it was a very specific place, specific time.
Clearly, other scriptures talk about God who has a plan for us. He knows and he cares for our welfare needs. It is not that this verse isn’t true for us but with this verse, we just need to think about the context. Context is huge. What’s going on here?
Now Israel was in exile because of their disobedience and because they weren’t repentant. There are in exile and Babylonians were pretty much lording over them.
Before we can fully understand verse 11 we have to look at the verse before. If we really want to know what is going on there. Verse 10 is highly important, it says, This is what the Lord says. So this when God kind of goes into a speech and 11 is a part of it. When 70 years are completed for Babylon I will visit you and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you he goes on.
First of all, he’s not saying that in the context of now right. Now it’s all going to get better. He said 70 years you will be in exile. I think what God is saying is he knows that he has plans for us. We know what he’s doing but sometimes whether it’s because of discipline or just because of suffering it might not happen right in that instant. The nation still had a lot of time in Babylon and they still were going to be in captivity for a good chunk of time.
The danger is that we make plans and then say to God bless this because you want to prosper me – it says so in scripture. We make ourselves central but you’re not. God is central he has plans for us and when we take our plans and project them onto him, we sometimes we can miss what God’s doing. The truth of this verse is even if you’re healthy, sick, rich, poor, whatever. It is God who has plans for your welfare and it might not look like what you think but because He’s good because He’s God and because He is our Father it will happen and so that’s what I want to leave you with today.
Let us pray.
You have plans for us all Lord, but they will unfold in your perfect timing and not mine. I trust your purposes for my life and for this time of crisis. We once again surrender to your will in everything. Amen.