Posts Tagged ‘Out of Context’

Reading the Bible Out of Context

Jeremiah

Out of Context

By

Jose de Carvalho

Ben Irwin as compiled an interesting series of popular verses Christians keep quoting that do not mean what they think it means. Please follow the link for a paraphrased example.

Jer 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (ESV)

 

Jeremiah 29:11 reads like a Christian motivational poster. Wait, It is a Christian motivational poster. No wonder it was Bible Gateway’s second-most shared verse of 2013.

Woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Don’t worry. God has a plan for your day. Facing a rough patch at work? Take a breath. Your future is bright. Money’s a bit tight? Relax. God’s going to prosper you.

Except the words in Jeremiah 29:11 have nothing to do with bad hair days, corporate ladders, or financial success. In 597 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah. He rounded up 10,000 leading citizens of Jerusalem and dumped them in Babylon, 500 miles from home. They lost everything. They didn’t know what to do next.

From Jerusalem, Jeremiah wrote to the exiles — and told them to get on with their lives: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters.” In other words: you’re going to be there a while. Yet God promised this wasn’t the end for them. In 70 years, the exiles would return home. This was the “hope and . . . future” mentioned in Jeremiah 29:11.

Incidentally, that hope and future was something most of the original exiles wouldn’t live to see for themselves. (Seventy years was a long time then, too.) The future described in this passage would be for their children and grandchildren (Israel).

It is true that God know the plans He has for you and that He is a good God, as well as that our hope is sealed with eternal hope. Nevertheless Jeremiah 29:11 doesn’t guarantee your personal fulfilment.