19 Sep DO YOU HAVE JEREMIAH 29:11 ALL WRONG?
Jeremiah 29:11 may be one of the most popular verses in the Bible. People have it tattooed on themselves. They keep it on their refrigerators and social media bios. It’s everywhere. But what does it mean? The verse itself says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares theLord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Sounds pretty straight forward, but is it?
Good hermeneutic practices demand that we understand the context of the original message. So, what is the context of Jeremiah 29:11? Turns out it’s not as straight forward as you might think. The message is written God’s people as they enter captivity. Listen to the surrounding verses for context.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you (Jeremiah 29:10-12).’
The message is this: You are going into captivity. You are losing your homes and your way of life. It even appears in verse twelve that God is saying that He won’t listen to their prayers for a season. Jeremiah 29:11 is reminding them that despite the fact that things look bad, He still cares about their people.
The problem is simple. People often interpret this as a motto for their personal life. God is using this to communicate to a people who are in captivity. He tells them they will remain there for 70 years (that’s a generation). Basically, the whole generation will die in captivity (save for maybe some very young children). This verse is not a promise for people’s personal deliverance. In fact, God is promising them that they won’t be personally delivered.
These verses are written about suffering and hardship. Jeremiah 29:10 essentially promises that everyone in the generation being spoken to will die in captivity and 29:11 is God saying that He still has good plans for your progeny. The problem is that people listen to ear-tickling preachers instead of truth speakers. They read soft devotionals instead of studying how to rightly divide the word for themselves. They don’t read passages, they read verses (and therefore miss the context and meaning of the verses that they do read). FOR MORE LIKE THIS READ “WHY EVERY CHURCH NEEDS TO PRIORITIZE HERMENEUTICS“
In conclusion, God does have plans for His people to prosper. However, sometimes His definition of prosper is different than ours. Furthermore, sometimes we won’t “prosper” in this life. The verse is not a blanket statement written to all mankind. It was written to a specific group of people at a specific time for a specific purpose.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Leave a comment below and share to get your friends in on the conversation.
For more like this, check out: WHY EVERY CHURCH NEEDS TO PRIORITIZE HERMENEUTICS