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PURPOSE: Daily Reading Plan #3

Reading Plan Day 3
Jeremiah 29:4-14

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 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. 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." 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. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the LORD.

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. 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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 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. 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."

When interpreting Scripture, we must keep in mind the distinction between a passage's interpretation and the same passage's application: a passage can have only one meaning, but it may have many applications. Jeremiah 29:11 is no different. The verse has only one meaning.

Jeremiah 29 is addressed to the exiles in Babylon. As punishment for the sins of Judah, God was going to send the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and the temple and to carry away many of the people to Babylon. (See Jeremiah 25:8–14 for one example.) At the time Jeremiah wrote Jeremiah 29, Nebuchadnezzar had already removed some Jews to Babylon (see verse 1), although the total destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was still to come. Jeremiah writes to the exiles to tell them that people would return to the land after 70 years (verse 10). Then he reassures them in verse 11 that God has not forsaken them. They will be restored. God's plans for His Chosen People were "for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope" (NLT).

In the primary application, Jeremiah 29:11 has nothing to do with any person living today. This verse applied only to the Jews who were in exile in Babylon during the sixth century BC. However, the sentiment expressed is so beautiful and encouraging, is there not any sense in which it applies today? The answer is, yes.

Believers in Christ can be confident that all things will work together for our good and that God has a future planned for us. We have hope that "does not put us to shame" (Romans 5:5). We have been given promises to rely on, just as Israel was. So, if by quoting Jeremiah 29:11 we are thinking of our security in Christ, then the wording is appropriate, even if the historical context does not apply.

Reflection Questions


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