I know, I know, it has been a long time since I have contributed. I have grandchildren now!!!
So anyway, today I want to spend some time on a verse that is so often misused, Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. This is a really interesting verse of Scripture. It is part of a letter sent by Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon. Take note of that, the exiles in Babylon. Jeremiah first tells them to build homes, plant gardens, seek the peace of the city they are in. They are to get involved with the local community, to pray for it, so that it may prosper. In doing this, they will prosper also. They are not to listen to those prophets who are telling them that they will soon be going back home. Instead, they are to make their home where they are now.
Why? Because the Lord knows what plans He has for them. But these are plans for the future. For 70 years they must remain in captivity. Only then will He listen to them when they call out. The so-called prophets will be chased down, sword, famine and plague will sent against them as well as those who listen to them.
So as you see, these words are not all that wonderful for the people of Israel. They are being told that what they dream about and wish for, and even pray for will not come about swiftly, and will not come about without some real suffering happening.
So how is this misused? We quote this in the midst of trials, with the idea that God is going to take care of things immediately. Not so. If we are using this verse correctly, we need to take the long view, 70 years of exile and suffering, before God will answer. Not that God will not answer swiftly, there are many places in Scripture that tell us that God will act on our behalf and often swiftly. We need to remember that God is not ruled by time. He can and will act as He sees fit, when He sees fit. God has not forgotten His people, He will act and does act. But not when we decide He should.
When people quote this verse, I love to ask them if they want to wait for 70 years for an answer. Shakes them up a bit. Never forget that God is the source of prosperity and disaster. Isaiah 45: 7 (NLT) I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. And He does it all according to His plan.
So what is the proper way to use this verse. Simply to recognize, that He is in control. Nothing slips by Him. He does have plans for us, plans to prosper us, give us hope and a future. Many of us may not see the fulfillment of that until we stand before Him, renewed, recreated, perfected.