Clarity Amid Uncertainty
Updated: Jun 9, 2021
Tuesday - June 8th
Scripture to Read Today: Daniel 2:24-48
"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."
Many Christians are familiar with and hold on tightly to Jeremiah 29:11. However, many discover that its historical context causes the verse to take on a deeper, more relevant, and even more profound meaning for life than expected at first glance.
When taken in historical context, the words of Jeremiah 29:11 are addressed to Jews living under the Egyptian and then Babylonian Empires before being exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon. I can only imagine what it would be like to live under the oppression of one's enemies and then be forced to flee your hometown and live as a captive to those same foes.
In the literary context of the Book of Jeremiah, we know that Jeremiah had just delivered judgment on the false prophet Hananiah (Jeremiah 28). Hananiah had promised the people that God would break the oppression of Babylon in two years, allowing them to return home. While his speech sounded acceptable to the people, it was not true, and God removed Hananiah and his influence on the people of Judah (Jeremiah 28:15-17).
Instead, Jeremiah warns the people that they will spend at least 70 years in Babylon. As a result, they should settle down, construct homes, marry, and even pray for the peace and prosperity of the city in which they now live as captives (Jeremiah 29:4-10).
When read in context, Jeremiah 29:11 was given to bring hope to individuals experiencing difficulty and suffering. The clarity of the promise made many people long for an immediate rescue - similar to the one about which Hananiah falsely prophesied. However, God's approach is not to provide a quick solution to the problem. God promises that despite their current circumstances, He has a plan to prosper them.
Daniel and his three friends may have grasped the words of Jeremiah. They may have sought clarity amid their uncertainty. The four young Jewish men understood that their suffering and pain were temporary. What God was planning was a complete and ultimate blessing of His people. But, there would be hardship and judgment throughout the journey of the four men. They could have courage because, ultimately, God would take care of them.
The temporary suffering of Christians today reminds us that we may suffer now and for a season, but God has plans to prosper us. We must hold tightly to His promise and never give up. Jeremiah 29:11 provided hope to those in Babylonian captivity.
Like the dream Nebuchadnezzar had and Daniel interpreted, the statue representing various empires would ultimately be hit by a rock and destroyed. While what we are going through in our lives currently might seem overwhelming, but like the rock hitting the statue, God will ultimately have the victory!
God will work out his eternal plan. When He does, there will be no more suffering. We can seize this promise today - though it may not be realized for years. God does, as Romans 8:28 says, "work all things together for good." In the long view, that is what Jeremiah 29:11 is all about. The words from God in Jeremiah 29:11 fuel us with promise and hope.
In your suffering today, be reminded that God has plans to ultimately "prosper you and not harm you!"