Jeremiah 29:11 is a beloved verse for multitudes of Christians. And that is understandable when you consider its content:
I’ve seen Jeremiah 29:11 on refrigerators, Facebook cover pages, car windows, framed art, and permanently inked onto human skin.
I have also heard Christians rebuke other Christians for assuming Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise that can be claimed by them today. The argument goes something like this… “Jeremiah 29:11 does not apply to us today. It was written at a specific time for a specific people. You cannot claim it as a promise for yourself.”
I get it. I totally understand that it is vital that we study our Bibles in context and that we do not take verses out of context. Yet, I also think it is entirely appropriate for Christians today to draw hope and comfort from Jeremiah 29:11. Here’s two good reasons why…
- Though Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise given by God to Israel, under the old covenant, its content is consistent with the promises of God given to believers under the new covenant.
- The New Testament instructs us to take the Old Testament promises and see them as fulfilled for us and through us in Christ: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NKJV)
Now, that said, let me bring some balance. One of the legitimate reasons that many Christians are concerned about claiming Jeremiah 29:11 as a personal promise for today is that sometimes people make assumptions about the verse that simply are not true. Here are a couple of examples:
- A Christian is going through a very hard time, reads Jeremiah 29:11 and assumes that this means that the trial they are going through is definitely not God’s will and He will quickly rescue them from that trial. Yet, Jeremiah 29:11 was written to God’s people when they were experiencing the discipline of God in their lives. In the midst of the trial God had given them, He wanted to remind them that His ultimate goal was to bring them to a place of peace and prosperity. As for the assumption that God would soon rescue them, that was definitely not the case for the people to whom this promise was originally delivered. In fact, Jeremiah 29:10 said that they would be under God’s discipline for seventy years!
- Someone hears Jeremiah 29:11 and assumes God is going to give them a glorious future and they have no responsibility themselves. I have actually seen people claim this verse for themselves while they are living in blatant, unrepentant immorality. My dear friends, it does not work that way. If you are truly a child of God and if you are living in rebellion against your loving Heavenly Father, don’t expect Him to give you peace and prosperity. Expect Him to discipline you (see Hebrews 12:6-8). You have a responsibility to be calling upon Him in prayer and seeking Him with all of your heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
So, in summary, Jeremiah 29:11 applies to you after all! But make sure you first understand it within its immediate context, as well as the context of the entire redemptive story.
You Are Loved!
At the risk of being overdramatic, I have to say that this may be the most powerful life story I’ve ever heard. Louis Zamperini has lived a life that tops anything you’ve ever seen in the movies. Laura Hillenbrand, also author of Seabiscuit, does a masterful job of putting you right alongside Louis in his Olympic and War adventures. I found this Youtube video featuring a CBS documentary on Louis followed by an interview with Louis and a Q&A session with a USC journalism class. The 2 hour video is priceless.
My recommendation is that you read the book BEFORE you watch this video. You’ll enjoy the book and the video more if you read the book first. So for those of you who’ve already read the book, or for those who can’t wait, enjoy:
A few Sundays ago at Harvest, I delivered a message titled, “How Can I Really Change?” one of the points was if you really want to change in your life, if you really want to experience growth, you need to accept God’s change agents in your life, including difficult trials. Here is a good quote from Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) on this reality:
I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness.”
God provided a new friend for me today. In God’s kind providence I was privileged to meet, via internet and telephone, a pastor from North Carolina named Jonathan. I am excited about this friendship for what we have in common. We both have a condition called Barrett’s Esophagus.
Barrett’s is found mostly among sufferers of GERD (acid reflux disease), like Jonathan and myself. More importantly, and frighteningly, Barrett’s is a high risk condition for Esophageal Cancer, which is not exactly the best cancer to have.
I really appreciate the writings of Ed Welch. Here Dr. Welch speaks compassionately and understandingly about the subject of depression, and offers some hope:
He died yesterday, at the same age Jesus did. And because Jesus rose, Zac will too.
As Zac said, “To God Be the Glory.”