Hope and a future - 4 August 2020

Xanthe Hancox

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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 29:10-11

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the best-known Bible verses about hope. It’s the type of verse that’s often quoted to encourage people who aren’t sure what job to apply for, which course to study, or what exactly it is God wants from them.

It’s worth noting, however, that this verse is not written to individuals at all. This passage is written to a whole group of people, the entire Israelite nation. The “you” in Jeremiah 29:11 isn’t singular, it’s plural. And in verse 10, God lays down the specifics on this promise for the Israelites: Yes, God says, I will redeem you — but only after 70 years in exile. God does have a plan to prosper his people, but it would look far different than the Israelites ever expected.

But how does any of this apply to us today? Can we still take heart in such a beautiful promise—even though it was spoken to people long ago, people in a far different situation than ours?

Yes! God is a God of redemption and he wants to redeem all people, just as he wanted the nation of Israel to be redeemed and whole again. This verse does not apply to isolated individuals or to a broad community. It applies to both, together, functioning as one. The image painted here is one of individuals in community, a group of people, worshiping God together, hoping for a future redemption.

Even more important than our decision about which city to move to or what career is right for us, is the future hope of the Kingdom of God foretold by the prophets and fulfilled in the reign of our now and coming King. In this way, the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 is bigger than any one of us—and far better.

Prayer: Father, so often we are like Israelites. We do not listen to you and want to follow our own sinful ways. Forgive us and guide us back to your plan for our lives. Thank you for your redeeming promise to give us hope and a future. Amen.

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