Verse of the Day Devotion: Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of Babylon, conquered Israel and took many of the Jews captive, taking them back with Him to exile. After a time. there were several letters sent back and forth between Jeremiah and the Jews in Babylon recorded here in Jeremiah 29. This verse falls within the first letter Jeremiah wrote to the exiles. Let us look at the words God gave to Jeremiah for the Jews in Babylon.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon,” Jeremiah 29:4. This is a remarkably interesting passage, for it declares that God SENT the Jews into exile. The exile was God’s doing, not Nebuchadnezzar’s, done for reason’s not yet known to Israel at the time. After revealing this fact, the letter goes on to encourage them to make the most of their situation. “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” Jeremiah 29:5-7. He tells them to settle in, build houses to inhabit and plant gardens for food. This makes it clear this will not be a short exile. However, while they are there, they are to do what is necessary to take care of themselves. This is a culture that does not follow the ways of the Jews; therefore they are encouraged to do what they can to follow the statues give them. He also tells them to marry and have children so that their population does not decrease. However, they were to marry within their own people and not to intermarry with heathens. This becomes clear on their return to Israel. And they are to seek the welfare of Babylon, praying for them.
He then warns the people of false prophets in exile with them, for they prophesy against what the Lord has actually said. “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,‘ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 29:8-9.
So why does God tell His people all this? As encouragement. “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.” Jeremiah 29:10. They will be there seventy years, and then they will go back to their own land. And then, our focus verse. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. God has an amazing plan for them. Not one regarding the end of Israel, but on the contrary, one that will give them a future and something to look forward to. A future not as the false prophets declare in pretending they know what is the will of God, but a declaration of a true truth.
There is much to be taken from this verse. However, this same thing can be said of us. He has a plan for us as well. One that is for our good and not for harm. We may go through tough times; persecution, pain, and humility, but God has a plan. We may at times feel He is far off, but God has a plan. And we may feel at times that there is no hope for things getting better, just as some in captivity in Babylon no doubt felt. But again, God has a plan. And His plan is a grand one, eternal life in His kingdom where all is good and there is no more sorrow, suffering or death. We must always remember this no matter what life brings our way. God has a plan, and it is for our good. Remember what my favorite verse in scripture says. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. Always remember this, for everything He has planned is for our good, just like they were for the exiles in Babylon.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.