The blog is back-up and here is last night’s post:
I thoroughly enjoy the flow of Jeremiah and today’s reading was no different. The entire reading is interesting and I would encourage you to delve into it; but what I am going to focus on is one of the most quoted scriptures in all the Bible which also happens to be one of the most misapplied scriptures in all the Bible…
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Or in the NIV
“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.”
How many graduates will receive this “promise” in a card or on the inside cover of a book or in a graduation speech over the next several weeks? And how many will receive this promise in a misused fashion?
Too many read this text and apply this text as if God is our vending machine that is just going to make everything “hunky dory” but what about the graduate from college that reads this card and then for two years can’t find a job with the degree he/she just paid $10,000’s of dollars to receive? What about the couple that gets married and they receive the promise, “I know the plans that I have for you…to give you a future and a hope,” and within two years they are filing for divorce. What about the family that on the day of the dedication of their child they receive a card affirming the promise God has for this little baby, “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.” And then a few months later the baby is diagnosed with a terrible disease and the family realizes their child of “promise” has almost no future…no more than five years.
It is funny this text is used as a prosperity text but notice the actual context…
In chapter 28 a “prophet” named Hananiah prophesies in the empty temple of Jerusalem, it is empty because Babylon ransacked the city and took the temple pieces and most the people back to Babylon, but this guy gives a prophecy that in just two years all the people and all the belongings will be restored to Jerusalem. Jeremiah actually affirms the prophecy, not that he believes it, but, “yeah I wish God would do that…but He’s not going to…”
Then with the backdrop of a false promise of prosperity from Hananiah Jeremiah sends a letter to the Israelites exiles in Babylon and says this is what is really going to happen, “You’re going to live there a long time. Many of you will die there. Your kids will grow-up, get married and die there. And so you might as well make the best of a bad situation. In fact God states very clearly the best way for these folk to prosper in the midst of bad,
“Also, seek the peace and 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.” -Jeremiah 29:7
That sounds a lot different than the greeting cards with promises of abundance because of Jeremiah 29:11…
So how does Jeremiah 29:11 then apply?
No matter how bad things get God does not forget and eventually all will be made right. And isn’t that a more accurate promise than prosperity here on this earth?
We are journeying through this world and the promise isn’t in this world we’ll have the greatest experience, that we’ll have no calamity, that we’ll always prosper, that we have a great future here on this earth ahead of us…
The promise is that one day maybe still years from now…maybe long after we’re gone…maybe even long after our children our gone…all things will eventually be made right…sin will be no more, death will be no more, sorrow will be no more, we will not hope against hope, no our hope will ultimately be completely fulfilled, ’till then the best thing for us to do is as we are able pray for the nations we live in and seek to live like Jesus in the midst of those that don’t believe around us and God will ultimately bless them through our prayers, and us through their blessing in some way ’till that day of ultimate blessing.
Oh and one more thing…that ultimate promise comes as a result of relationship with our Lord…
“Then you will callon 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. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” -Jeremiah 29:12-14
Better than a false prosperity promise of Jeremiah 29:11 this year let us give to our young people and our fellow man the promise of an eternal hope that can be ours and theirs as we daily seek the face of Jesus.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Mark 15 & 16