A. Read Jeremiah 29:11
Complete Steps B, C, and D as guided
Then see below for a completed study.
Jeremiah 29:11 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.
Jeremiah prophesied to the people and the last five kings of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He was given the difficult assignment of proclaiming the destruction of Judah at the hands of Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar - a destruction God had promised because the people refused to heed God's word and turn their hearts back to Him.
Every blessing God promised Israel would look like it was ending - the land would be completely destroyed and the people would be taken into captivity for 70 years. It would look like the end of the nation.
Biblical & Grammar Context
Repetitions: plans (x3)
plans - to prosper
plans - not to harm
plans - to give hope/future
Before this prophecy, God sent prophets to encourage the Israelites to turn back to Him for many years. Isaiah warned Judah, as had Jeremiah, of the consequences of their sin: "This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years" (Jer 25:11). They also prophesied, however, that God would show compassion on the Hebrew people and forgive them if they turned and repented.
Chapter 27: Jeremiah prophesied that the time was finally ready for God's judgment (27:6) and false prophet would come, but they should not listen. (27:14).
Chapter 28: The false prophet came and told the people God would rescue them within two years (Jer. 28:3, 4).
Chapter 29: Jeremiah wrote a letter to the community of Hebrews and told them not to listen to false prophets; they will be in exile for 70 years. He then reaffirms God's promise of compassion to the nation (29:10-11).
Outline and Primary Message
My outline must be in keeping with the context; therefore, I outline Jeremiah chapters 1-29
A. God appoints Jeremiah to speak His word and promises He will perform it
B. Jeremiah rebukes Judah and calls her to repentance promising that repentance brings God's blessings
a. The people reject God's word
b. Jeremiah laments
C. God responds to Jeremiah - God promises captivity
a. Jeremiah prays
D. God responds - God promises punishment before restoration
E. God judges Zedekiah - God promises captivity
a. God will mercifully judge Babylon in 70 yrs
F. God promises false prophets
a. Hananiah prophesies God's mercy in 2 years
b. Jeremiah rebukes Hananiah
c. Jeremiah confirms God's word
God is faithful to His plan for His people; He is faithful to keep His promises.
Interpretation and Application
Interpretation: 1. This is a word to the entire nation of Judah. 2. Jeremiah repeats the word "plan" three times, so we know it is crucial. However, it's not just the "plan" that is important. The vital component of Jeremiah's message is God knows the plan because He has declared it and He is faithful to what He declares. His Word reveals He did fulfill His plan - and His plan only
Application: God is faithful to His Word. Here His declaration is both to an entire community and to the individuals within that community. It was because of the sins of the people that God brought His judgment on the nation. Therefore, when we apply this message, remember it is bigger than any one of us. It's a prophecy about God's plan for the future of His Church. God will be faithful to what He promised throughout Scripture. His plan is for a glorious future for the Bride of Christ!
True prosperity is only found in our eternal inheritance.
How many times have you seen this verse printed on a wall plaque? Do you think the intent of the artist was to say that God has a plan for His Church? Probably not. Many people use this verse out of context; I understand that tendency because we do often need hope. Life can be very hard. However,
God offers us hope that is much more glorious than merely a promise that we will be quickly rescued from a trial.
First of all, we should notice the focus of Jeremiah's message is the community of God's people, not one individual. If we attempt to apply this Scripture only to individual lives, we miss the primary message. Without proper interpretation, we might say that Jeremiah's words promise God's favor on our lives in a way that guarantees we will not suffer any harm. Using this verse to promise that God's plan for us is for prosperity and freedom from hard times is not theologically sound.
The false prophet, the King of Judah, and the people of Israel had a plan that in no way fit with what God's Word proclaimed, and God had no intention to submit to their plans. The false prophet said: God promised to be a God of compassion, and because of His kindness, we can believe He will rescue us. That was partially true, but God's complete whole word to the Israelites promised that they would have to suffer for a while awaiting His compassionate rescue. The false prophet leaned too heavily on one portion of God's word to Jeremiah without considering the whole of his prophecy.
God is a compassionate God, but He is a God that judges sin, and we need not try to pit God's love against His holiness. He is faithful to His entire Word. That's all we need to know. We may not understand it, we may not even like it some days, but He knows the plans He has for us, and that's all we need to know. Oh, but isn't that gloriously enough?
When we look at this passage in consideration of the whole story, we see that God promises us something wonderful - He knows His plan for each of us because that's His plan for His Church - a future that will be glorious - and that should give us great hope. However, for now, we may have to wait out some fairly hard days, or even years. He knows that our greatest trials can produce our most significant growth so He might have to let us learn to persevere through those trials, not rescue us from them.
It's His plans that matter, not our own. He knows the plans He has for us, and even if that plan seems hard some days, He has also promised us a glorious future. And you can trust Him to be faithful to that promise because He is a God who is faithful to His Word.
Even more wonderful than God promising to rescue us when we are suffering temporary trials in the here and now, even more wonderful than God promising that He has a specific plan for where we should live, what job we should take, or who we should marry, is God's promise that He has a plan for the Kingdom of God. True prosperity is only found in our eternal inheritance. God's promise of Jeremiah 29:11 is more wonderful than anything temporal.