Jeremiah 29:11: A contextual analysis

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It says in Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version), “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.” This is my life verse. My second, actually, after 1 Timothy 4:12, which tackles the youth battling out low expectations from adults and taking the step up to responsibility and challenges. But what is Jeremiah 29:11, the second most used life verse1, really all about?

Jeremiah 29:11 as my life verse

Before we dive into the specifics and technicalities, let me share to you why this verse became close to my heart: you see, there came a time in my life where I learned to doubt God. And these doubts turned to despair, and eventually despair turned into disbelief. I was questioning God and His existence. I had lost hope because of challenges and events that have been occurring in my life in and out of college. But through a simple scroll down Facebook, I saw this bible verse shared by an old high school classmate. That really didn’t hit me in the guts until I started thinking about it more and more. I was in the state of going to agnosticism. I felt abandoned and alone, going into that short state of depression despite continuously smiling and trying to make people laugh (to prove to myself that I don’t deserve to feel melancholy for the rest of my life. But this verse helped me to hang on and to continue to hope; to never fret or overthink about the future – my future – that I can never predict. And up to this write-up, this is still my life verse.

Jeremiah 29:11 in context

Now, what does this verse really mean? Well, the book of Jeremiah, based on my understanding is that Jeremiah had predicted the “Fall of Jerusalem” because of the havoc and chaos that the people have been doing. They have submitted themselves to evil and have forgotten all about God. So what does that have to do with 29:11? Well, let’s go a chapter back. In Jeremiah 28 comes Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet…or so we thought. He was boldly proclaiming that God was going to free Israel from Babylon in two years (Jeremiah 28:11), but God revealed to Jeremiah that it was a big fat lie. So what happened to Hananiah? Seven months had passed and he died (Jeremiah 28:17). Bummer.

 

So what now? Well, in Jeremiah 29:5-7, God instructed people to build houses, settle down, marry and have sons and daughters and increase in number and He also said to obey the authority of Babylon, which during that time was being ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar II, who was also considered as a brutal, powerful, and ambitious king. But Nebuchadnezzar also served as “God’s instrument of judgment on Judah or its idolatry, unfaithfulness, and disobedience (Jeremiah 25:9)”2. You could possibly think that this couldn’t get any worse, but if you look at Jeremiah 29:10, God is telling them that their people would be able to go back home after seven decades. This means that the current generation of that time won’t make it back home alive, or there’s that super small chance of getting back alive, but you’re now as fragile as a wine glass.

So wait, how does that make any of us feel better? Well, God was basically saying to trust Him. He knows the situation sucks right now but He has our best interest in mind, and that’s what the next verse is talking about: Jeremiah 29:11. God used that verse to let them understand that all hope is not lost. According to Mary DeMuth3, she said that we must “remember that the best growth comes through persevering through trials, not escaping them entirely. And when we learn perseverance, we find surprising joy” meaning that the hope that God is talking about here is that 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.4

Final words

Throughout the trials and tribulations of life, we must always remember that God is always with us, whether we experience delights or trials. The trials and tribulations that He let us face are not to let us suffer but for us to realize how we have been astray and how we’re getting lost. God wants us to realize the importance of His “rules” in preventing anarchic events in our personal lives. Accepting Christ does not mean that we get to live a pleasant sin-free, worry-free life. The Christian life is not difficult, it is indeed humanly impossible. But what changes? Our response, our character, and our heart. We become warriors and soldiers, tougher and stronger than ever. But God is with us throughout and God won’t let us go astray. Why? It’s all because of His love for us. And to experience God’s unconditional love is one of the most amazing experiences, for me. So, let’s continue to hope and to hang on. God isn’t finished with us just yet.

 


Author’s Note: This was actually our assignment for our small group and I wanted you guys to understand my insights from my research and opinion. Hope you like it!

SOURCES:

1http://www.coylindsey.com/2013/03/20/whats-the-meaning-of-your-life-verse-jeremiah-2911/

2https://www.gotquestions.org/Nebuchadnezzar.html

3http://www.marydemuth.com/jeremiah-29-11/

4http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/stop-taking-jeremiah-29-11-out-of-context.html

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