“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.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Many people love Jeremiah 29:11 (myself included). It is a scripture of hope. We love to quote this scripture to people who are struggling, to new graduates, some even to promote a doctrine of prosperity.
However, we must always be careful when pulling out just one scripture and applying it. We must remember to study the totality of God’s Word. What is the context? Who is God speaking to? What comes before and after that particular scripture?
In Jeremiah 29:11, God was not speaking to an individual. He was speaking to a group – the Nation of Israel, which was in exile at the time. God was letting Israel know that He had not forgotten them and that He had a plan for them. The “you,” therefore, was plural, not singular.
Also, we often overlook the fact that the promise of verse 11 was a future promise. God was saying to those in exile, He had plans for them and that after 70 years, He would fulfill His promise.
Yes, like the Nation of Israel, God knows your future and mine. But what’s truly awesome is that He has a plan for all of us, collectively, as the body Christ. When I think about Jeremiah 29:11 now, I don’t apply it to me as an individual. I meditate on it, and apply it to us, the body of Christ. I think about the fact that God has a plan for us, his children. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). What greater promise? What greater hope?
One day Christ is returning and we, His children, will spend eternity with Him.