Jeremiah, The Prophet of God, Still Speaks…
We like to quote Jeremiah often. As believers, Jeremiah 29:11 is our “go to” when pondering the meaning and purpose of our lives. We ask for help when confused because we trust in God. But, we need to understand the context of this passage to apply to our lives today in more profound way.
As we experience a transition from total isolation to people independently deciding what is good for them, no matter what the consequences of those decisions will be, some are coming back to these prophetic words, “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord”. However, how we interpret those plans is significant for our individual lives.
Who really knows? God knows. ONLY God knows.
God created us. God wired us in specific ways. God loves us. God wants His best for us which is better than what we think our best should be. Since He created, invented us, and gave us a manual of how we tick and work, shouldn’t we listen to Him? The product of the inventor does not tell others how to use it. The inventor is asked for what purpose his invention was created. The inventor is the One who tells others how the product was designed to work at it’s best.
We are the creation, the “product”, masterpiece of God. The Designer knows what we specifically are wired to be and to do. So…Ask God.
The Before and After of Jeremiah 29:11…
God’s people are taken captive and sent in exiled isolation to Babylonia. They are currently living under the authority of unbelievers, not of God. Jeremiah, under the direction of God, Himself, comes to remind His people, that HE is God and they are not. God knows the current condition of His people and HE knows what will happen next. God message boils down to, “TRUST ME, I know what happens next!”
He also gives directions of how to fully realize that God does indeed know. He also provides understanding in how to follow in His ways to accomplish His purpose by which we are created. We can learn from this simple but challenging prophetic message while we journey through what seems like isolated exile currently.
Here are the words of Jeremiah 29:1-14, NIV
Plans to Give You the Future You Hope For
29 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin[a] and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 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.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 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. 12 Then you will call on 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.”
WHAT WE LEARN…WISDOM DIRECTLY FROM GOD
1. PRAY for your “captors”, those in authority over you currently, even if you do not agree. Do life with God helping you as you did before being taken from where you were into isolation. If the city (and country) you now live in prospers, so will you! (verse 7)
“…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.”
2. “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you.” Listen to the God who knows!
3. God promises, “I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.”
4. Trust His Plan: “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.”
5. Trust His Ways: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
6. Our Part: “‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.'”
7. God is Sovereign and In Control: “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.”
A life lived for God, allowing Him full rein or “reign” as Lord of our lives results in victory from “captivity” of whatever is keeping us from God.
KNOW ALSO that the evil one still fights for our souls by planting thoughts in our minds which result in behaviors not of God. Evil hits harder when we are tired and weak. When we pray, seeking all of God with a sincere heart, God intervenes, gives victory over evil and then invites us into His work of helping others find and follow Him, too.
Are we still living in captivity or are we living knowing we are redeemed?
Do we really believe that God has a plan for our lives?
Dear Heavenly Father,
We repent of thinking only of the current situation while alluding or ignoring the purpose you have for us in and through it. We seek you, Lord, with all our heart, mind and soul. I want what you want. I’m listening. You have my attention. I know you know the plan for me for my good and for your glory. Thank you for your unchanging love, mercy and grace.
In Jesus Name, Amen