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. (NIV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (KJV)
OK, if you are like me, you have heard Jeremiah 29:11 quoted everywhere. And saints, I will admit, this one may hurt. Especially, when I have heard Christians tell me that Jeremiah 29:11 is their favorite scripture in the bible. And as a matter of fact, I have this scripture on a plague on my living room wall as I’m typing this. However, even though I know it’s on my wall, it was given to me as a gift for my family, but I know the context is wrong, here’s why. People have used this scripture to be blessed all the time. The word prosper in the original Hebrew is sometimes translated as peace, which it is here. Prosper here, is the Hebrew word Shalom, which means peace. So, in this scripture the KJV translates it correctly while the NIV translates it as prosperous which gets us into trouble. However, like I have said before, sometimes, the NIV gets it more correct and the KJV was lacking, so here is an example where it goes both ways. Why does it matter? Please see below. Look at how we have used this out of context as opposed to the real context.
Out of Context: This verse is typically given to someone as a sentiment during a difficult time, or on a graduation card after crossing a stage receiving his or her diploma or degree.
As a stand-alone promise, it appears as though God exists to make us all popular, rich, healthy, and powerfully well known! God declares the American Dream over my life!
In Context: This incredible promise is given not to an individual, but to a people group—Hebrews exiled in Babylon. God promised that He had not given up on His people and that even though things looked dire, they still had a future and a hope!
So, the word “prosper” doesn’t refer to money or material blessings; it refers to physical and spiritual salvation, (or I will add, it is peace as they go into 70 years of captivity). It’s a beautiful promise that God is not done with His people and that their future and hope were only found in Him.
The promise is that He will see His plans through, and His people get to be a part of them.
OK, so lets’ recap:
- This is not a scripture for the American dream. Nor was this about prosperity at all, it’s about peace. But peace from what?
- This scripture is God preparing His people, (the Old Testament Jews) as they were about to go through 70 years, yes, I said it, 70 years of Babylonian captivity as the Babylonians came in and overtook them. This verse is preparing God’s people for 70 years of bondage. Yes, the context of this scripture is suffering, pain, and bondage, not blessing! Yes, please read that again, this scripture is referring to bondage as God’s people are about to be defeated but it is God’s promise to be with them even though they are about to be taken away to Babylon, (modern day Iraq).
- I’ve seen this false teaching manifest recently with a person on YouTube who quoted this verse and said, see saints, “God is saying your time of weeping is over, your time of mourning is over”. Saints this is incorrect! The bible says rejoice for those that rejoice and mourn for those that mourn, so clearly there will always be mourning pain and suffering until Jesus returns. Secondly, the bible says in the book of Revelation, that is when God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, but that is in the future, not in the here and now. So, in the here and now, we will always have to go through things, not always getting out of them, so that Youtuber was definitely, incorrect! So, to use Jer 29:11 as a means to say God thinks about us all the time, and in doing so, we will never have problems or we are using this verse as a means to get out of troubles or act like we will never have any, is using this in error! Now back to the text:
- So, why are the Israelites being defeated? They are being defeated because they turned away from God and forsook His ways. So, God is allowing the Babylonians to overtake them. So, this scripture is also based in God’s people walking in disobedience. So, this verse is about God saying, I will not leave or forsake you, even though as my people, you have left and forsaken Me in your actions. So, this speaks to the faithfulness of God, not the faithfulness of Israel. Again, their faithfulness was lacking in this verse. So, I pray we are not using this text, especially since, we as Christians are supposed to be walking in holiness. So, why would we claim this verse in that way. Do we like disobedience? We shouldn’t as believers.
- Lastly, this verse was given, at the time, to Old Testament Jews, and ONLY Old Testament Jews, by claiming this for all Christians today is taking it out of context as well, with that being said: and this will be painful as well:
- This scripture was referring to the Jews of the Old Testament, which were people, in that time, were people who where in covenant with God. So, this is a verse that is dealing with people who were in covenant with God. I have seen, pastors, preachers, and churches everywhere use this scripture and preach it as if it applies to all humanity. So, they preach it to heathens/unbelievers in the pews as if this verse applies to them. No! Saints, not all versus in scripture applies to everyone. Some promises are for God’s people, and ONLY God’s people while other scriptures apply for the lost or evil doers etc. So, to use this verse to apply to everyone, everywhere, for all humanity, is just plain wrong.
- Another example of that is when we use Romans 8:28, all things work together for good, as if that applies to all humanity. Wrong. Go back and read Romans 8:28 and following, again, it says it worked together for good for those that love God, and for those that are called according to His purpose! Saints, that is us, not unbelievers! So, Romans 8:28 does not apply to them! So, the same holds true for Jeremiah 29:11 as well. Stop using this verse to unbelievers, it was never spoken to them but to people who were in covenant with God at the time. Not the heathen people that surrounded the Children of Israel, so we need to stop using it that way for today. I will deal with Romans 8:28 in another devotional for that very reason.
God, thank you father that You have saved me and bless us, Your body and Bride. God thank You that You have never left or forsook us even though, we may have on You. Thank You Lord for Your faithfulness. I thank you Lord, that you want us to have peace even in suffering, or hard times. May You continue to give us the peace that passes all understanding that can only be found in You. Forgive us Lord, for using this verse incorrectly and applying it as if it’s a 100% universal truth, showering us with all blessings, regardless of what we are doing. We now know Lord, it does not mean that, thank You, in Jesus’ name’ Amen!