35. Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” —Jeremiah 29:11

Here’s a verse you often see on wall plaques. It’s sometimes inscribed in beautiful calligraphy or printed over soaring pictures of eagles. It’s found on coffee mugs and decorative plates. But few people have studied its context.

Jeremiah 29 is a letter Jeremiah sent to displaced Jewish captives who’d been dragged from their homes and resettled in refugee camps in Babylon. Other prophets were claiming God would perform a miracle and deliver the nation of Judah as He’d done in the past. Jeremiah’s message was the opposite, saying in effect: “The Lord will not save us this time. Our sins have so alienated us from Him that only judgment is left. And yet even the judgment of God is merciful. It may take seventy years, but God will reestablish our nation, and His ultimate plans are undeterred. His purposes are stubborn things and will win in the end.” It’s in this context we find verse 11.

Here’s a simple study guide for the passage, which will aid in understanding and memorizing the key verse. After giving the background in verses 1-3, Jeremiah advises the exiles:

  1. Make the best of things (vv. 4-6). Settle down, decide you’re in for the long haul, go on with life, and make the best of it. Build houses. Plant gardens. Get married. Have children. Be hopeful. Don’t give up. You may not be where you want to be, but make the most of where you are. Don’t spend your years wishing that something had or hadn’t happened. Don’t be consumed by things you cannot change. Just settle down and do the best you possibly can where you are.
  2. Pray where you are (v. 7). Pray for the nation in which you’re exiled. Pray for the shalom of the country where you’re located. Lift up your surrounding circumstances by prayer.
  3. Beware the wrong voices (vv. 8-9). Don’t listen to false hope or ungodly messages.
  4. Take the long view (v. 10). At this point Jeremiah gives his famous prophecy that after seventy years God would bring the captives of Judah back and restore the nation of Israel. Our long-term prospects are always better than our immediate conditions.
  5. Get hopeful about God’s plans (v. 11). This is our key text, our memory verse.
  6. Seek the Lord above all (vv. 13-14). The next couple of verses remind us that since God has plans to prosper us and to give us hope and a future, we must seek Him with all our hearts.

Verse 11 is a powerful promise to claim when you are “in exile.” God thinks about you personally and is planning for you…. You need not fear the future. —Warren Wiersbe

100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart.

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