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Stop Taking Jeremiah 29:11 Out of Context!
CrossWalk ^

Posted on 03/05/2019 8:46:02 PM PST by SeekAndFind

Why do we misinterpret this verse?

“’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.’”

My Old Testament professor had this to say about the ever-popular Jeremiah 29:11: “I am going to destroy what this verse means to you, but then I’m going to reframe it so you understand it better within its original context, and then you will love it, even more, when we’re done.” He definitely had our attention!

We often approach Jeremiah 29:11 as a security blanket: God has a plan for me that is good, so clearly this suffering I’m going through will end soon and then my flourishing will begin! But that is not at all what God was promising to the Israelites, and it’s not what he’s promising us, either.

Author and blogger Mary DeMuth addresses our misunderstanding of this verse in her latest trending post, Jeremiah 29:11 Doesn’t Mean What You Think. As she explains, the heart of the verse is “not that we would escape our lot, but that we would learn to thrive” in the midst of it.

The True Context of Jeremiah 29:11

Here’s the context: the Israelites were in exile, a punishment from God as result of their disobedience. The prophet Jeremiah confronts the false prophet, Hananiah, who had boldly proclaimed that God was going to free Israel from Babylon in two years (spoiler alert: God doesn’t do this).

Jeremiah calls out Hananiah’s lie and then states the promise we read in 29:11. God does indeed have a good plan for the Israelites, and it is a plan that will give them hope and a prospering future. Sounds good, right?

The thing is, before he shares this promise, he gives them this directive from God: “seek the peace and the prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (29:7)

This is not at all what the Israelites wanted to hear! They wanted to be told that they were going to go home. They wanted to be told that their suffering was going to end. Instead, God’s plan was for them to stay right where they were, and to help prosper the nation that enslaved them!

And then came the biggest blow of all. In verse 10, God says that he would fulfill this “after seventy years are completed in Babylon.” This meant that none in the current generation of Israelites would ever return to their home. What a crushing thing to be told!

Mary writes:

Yes, of course, God knows the plans He has for us. And ultimately He will give us a glorious future. But as we walk out our lives on this crazy earth, let’s remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely. And when we learn perseverance, we find surprising joy.

What hard thing are you currently going through? In the midst of your suffering, cling to Jeremiah 29:11, but cling to it for the right reason: not in the false hope that God will take away your suffering, but in the true, gospel confidence that he will give you hope in the midst of it.

Want to learn more about the pitfalls of taking scripture out of context? Check out these articles and resources:

On the Use and Misuse of the Bible
Our Expectations Versus God’s Plan
Keep it in Context
3 Bible Verses You May be Getting Wrong
The Worst Ever (Mis)Quotation of the Bible?

TOPICS: General Discusssion; Theology
KEYWORDS: bible; context; hope; interpretation; jeremiah2911; perseverance; resiliance; suffering

1 posted on 03/05/2019 8:46:02 PM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Jeremiah 29:11 Doesn’t Mean What You Think

September 10, 2015


As we learn to bounce back from painful situations, we find the power of resilience. Merriam-Webster defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”

Here’s a fact: You will experience misfortune and change. Pretending otherwise isn’t healthy or realistic. How you deal with misfortune and change determines your joy.

Most of us are aware of the popular verse, 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’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

We quote it, share it with grieving friends, and cross-stitch it onto pillows. But do we truly know what it means? In order to understand its meaning, we have to hang out in the preceding chapter, understanding the history of Israel, the nature of the exile, and the promise of the future.

The Jewish people disobeyed God in every possible way. They traded Him for evil gods, preferring to worship demons than bow to the King of Kings. As a direct result of that disobedience, God sent them into Babylonian exile.

In the midst of that, we meet Hananiah, a seer. In chapter 28, he prophesied peace for Israel, saying they will be returning to Jerusalem soon. His message? All will be well.

Problem was, he didn’t tell the truth.

All would not be well.

In this day, we see hundreds (thousands?) of Hananiahs prophesying the same thing. All will be well. Prosperity is coming. Claim your victory. And then we lump in Jeremiah 29:11 in with that. We want to believe the Christian life is all about our happiness. We want joy, but we don’t want exile to create it. We want to be strong in Jesus, but we don’t want to walk the Calvary road He walked. We want holiness without pain.

The context of Jeremiah 29 is exile. Jeremiah, who rebukes Hananiah and predicts his death, reminds the Israelites that their exile was to continue. Relief would eventually come, but not swiftly. He encouraged them to marry and bury, to plant vineyards, to seek the prosperity of their current place.

Jesus uttered the same truth:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NLT).

We look for a better kingdom. As exiles and aliens on this sin-darkened earth, God doesn’t call us to escapism, but to find resilience in the midst of our trials. God gives us holy hope that this life is not all there is. Our suffering here means something. It helps us long for a better country, a better place.

Yes, of course God knows the plans He has for us. And ultimately He will give us a glorious future. But as we walk out our lives on this crazy earth, let’s remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely. And when we learn perseverance, we find surprising joy.

Prayer: Jesus, I want to practice resilience when misfortune or change come my way. Help me not try to escape my problems, but to face them with determination and with Your strength in me. I want to learn the secret of thriving in exile. Teach me how to have a new heart, new life this year by embracing the exercise of resilience. Amen.

2 posted on 03/05/2019 8:47:27 PM PST by SeekAndFind (look at Michigan, it will)
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To: SeekAndFind


3 posted on 03/05/2019 8:52:55 PM PST by OddLane
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To: OddLane

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 Don’t think this is too different from what it says in Jeremiah

4 posted on 03/05/2019 9:16:33 PM PST by bboise
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To: SeekAndFind

This shouldn’t dismay any serious Christian. The lesson here is that our blessings are (1) portable and (2) intended to be shared!

Too many Christians think like the world: “my prosperity is private.” It isn’t.

5 posted on 03/05/2019 10:15:27 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (May Jesus Christ be praised.)
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6 posted on 03/06/2019 1:51:47 AM PST by NoCmpromiz (John 14:6 is a non-pluralistic comment.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Whatever God’s plan and purpose for us, you can guarantee that “being in the midst of it” will be required.

7 posted on 03/06/2019 1:54:16 AM PST by Delta 21
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To: Delta 21

One of our pastors, in talking about Revelation and the rapture picked out a verse in Revelation and said something like - “I know I just said don’t pick and choose verses - but right there is the verse where it is speaking to Christians to be strong and steadfast through it all. This is one of the reasons why I don’t believe that the rapture will take us up before all of the bad stuff happens. When has God EVER removed his people from hardship in the world? He wants us in the middle of it as His witnesses.”

Of course the following week, another pastor during Bible study talked about their views and verses and how the faithful would escape during the rapture.

Me? I have no idea, and don’t concern myself with it. I got enough to worry about trying to stay strong and faithful in today’s battles against Satan.

8 posted on 03/06/2019 2:11:44 AM PST by 21twelve (!)
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To: SeekAndFind
Fon't tell the Snowflakes they need to learn to cope with life in order to feel God's many blessings - it will be the final straw and God will be totally outlawed......pretty much as He promised when He told us how bad things will get before Jesus returns to set things right.

Love the post - too many butcher a lot of Bible passages to suit what they want instead of what it says.

9 posted on 03/06/2019 3:59:06 AM PST by trebb (Don't howl about illegal leeches while not donating to FR - it's hypocritical.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Check out this film about those who use bible verses to further their own agenda:

“American Gospel: Christ Alone.”

10 posted on 03/06/2019 5:54:07 AM PST by Tommygun99 (I've gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, keep me here!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Here is Jeremiah 29: 11-14a

Jeremiah 29:11-14 New International Version (NIV)

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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a]

It is important to add these other verses:
we are to call upon the Lord
we are to pray to Him
He will listen
We will seek and find Him WHEN we seek Him with all our heart
He will bring us back from captivity.

Captivity is the way that we think. Once we seek Him wholeheartedly, without reservation, we will find Him and then we can see Him working in our lives, our prayers answered, and the Promises of God.

11 posted on 03/06/2019 6:17:02 AM PST by credo 2 (Romans 8:28)
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To: SeekAndFind

So true, so true.

The thing that faith can contribute to perseverance is patience.

The idea that contributes to patience is knowing no matter what you think of the moment, G-d will always be with you.

You can have the patience to persevere if you have faith in G-d.

12 posted on 03/06/2019 7:53:16 AM PST by Wuli
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To: SeekAndFind

This is wise teaching.

Who wouldn’t want to follow a God who guaranteed rainbows, prosperity, happiness and wealth??? But He didn’t promise that. He is glorified, and genuine faith is demonstrated, when we persevere in suffering because we TRUST what God has promised to us. He gives us joy even in the midst of a storm. We shall overcome just as He has overcome the world. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. I’ll take that over fleeting worldly happiness any day!

13 posted on 03/06/2019 10:37:20 PM PST by boatbums (Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy he saved us.)
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To: boatbums

Amen. Good post.

14 posted on 03/07/2019 5:48:50 AM PST by circlecity
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To: SeekAndFind

Thank you for this post; it is a real eye opener. It shows how we can have peace and victory in times of strife and trial. I confess that I’ve always been a “curse the darkness”, rather than a “light a candle”, person. I have always raled against the evil, instead of having joy in the midst of problems. I’ve wanted perfection, so I could be joyful; and peace that passes understanding, so I could be happy. No wonder I’m never satisfied -— I’ve been putting the cart before the horse! I’ve misinterpreted, “beloved, I would above all things, that you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers” . I see now, that the prosperity and health in my soul, are a RESULT of peace, and not the other way around, and that in order to have peace, I must light that candle, and stop cursing the darkness. I must stop waiting for things (and people) to be whatever my idea of “right” is, and see them through the eyes of Jesus, who is able to love us, in spite of our ugliness, and to see us as worth dying for.

15 posted on 03/07/2019 12:08:51 PM PST by Flaming Conservative ((Pray without ceasing))
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