Correcting Bad Exegesis (Jeremiah 29:11)

My #QT comments are going to make some people mad today. But, alas, what else is new? 😉 I have the responsibility to deal with the Word of God reverently and seriously and, therefore (gulp!), most Christians take Jeremiah 29:11 completely out of context. 
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

A wonderful verse. A beautiful verse. A verse of hope. However, if taken out of context of the passage, the verse loses its true meaning and modern application. 

First, it WAS NOT written in happy times or to happy people. It was a letter to exiles living in Babylon. They were in captivity. They had lost everything. They had more than likely seen their homes destroyed and family members killed. And so this verse is a promise for 70 years from now … Not at that moment (read v. 10-14). 

Second, this verse requires an effort on our parts. Verse 13 uses the key word WHEN. All of these things happen WHEN the exiles after the 70 years seek God and not before. 

So … Now that context has messed up a favorite verse for many, let’s find the GREATER joy: 1) God has a long memory and he never forgets HIS promises even if we forget ours. 70 years is literally a lifetime but to God it is a millisecond. 2) Exile might seen permanent but God never forgets where we are. 3) God Himself is the one who does the restoration WHEN we seek His face. Yes, He punishes but He is always ready to forgive as well. 

Now … I hope these verses give you more hope than they once did. They do me.

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