Shared from Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspectives Ministries (EPM) blog.
By Randy Alcorn
A few times I’ve shared Jeremiah 29:11 on my Facebook page. The verse says, “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope” (CEB). I always get some pushback on this. Recently a thoughtful reader asked, “But for whom and when does this apply? Is the context meant to include me/us?”
The “you” in Jeremiah 29:11 is plural. It’s spoken not to an individual but to a nation—God’s people Israel, in exile in Babylon. Seven verses earlier it says: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon …” (Jeremiah 29:4). And just a verse earlier it explains that exile will last seventy years. In the near context there is a false prophet, Hananiah, who is basically preaching health and wealth gospel, telling lies to the people that all would be well and that Babylon would be defeated. Jeremiah, the true prophet, who is speaking a message of God’s judgment on Israel, is rejected. God is promising to bring Israel back from the seventy year exile, and that will fulfill His plans for peace and a future of hope.
But the promise of God for all His people is revealed in this passage: that regardless of what judgment and suffering might happen first, God’s ultimate plans for His children (as much for us as for Old Testament Israel) are for good and not evil, for welfare and hope.
Yes, Jeremiah was writing to his fellow Israelites. But so were Moses, Samuel, and David, and nearly all the prophets. That’s true of virtually the entire Old Testament, which in hundreds of cases the New Testament freely applies to the church, followers of Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike. Israel was God’s people, and it’s no stretch to say that today’s believers, the church, are also God’s people. So verses that were written to Israel are also written for the church.
Read the rest here.