Most of us have heard–and likely quoted–Jeremiah 29:11:
We’ve clung to this verse.
We’ve declared it over our lives.
We’ve allowed the words to bring hope in the darkness.
Yet, perhaps, we’ve still missed the point.
Even when my kiddos were quite young, they quickly developed a knack for selective listening. I tell them after dinner we’ll go out for ice cream if they clean the house.
But somehow, all they hear is “You get ice cream.”
As I read this familiar passage, I realized I too have ignored God’s instructions (and stipulations) around this promise.
Yikes! More than a decade of faithfully serving God and quoting this scripture, yet I had missed the point.
So today, I will unpack God’s expectations, instructions, and warnings for us in the hopes that we may fully walk out His promise.
Let’s dive into Jeremiah 29:4-14 (MSG).
God’s Instructions in Jeremiah 29:4-7
The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiled Israelites living in Babylon (vs. 4-7):
This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, to all the exiles I’ve taken from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and make yourselves at home. “Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country. 6 “Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you’ll thrive in that country and not waste away.
7 “Make yourselves at home there and work for the country’s welfare.
“Pray for Babylon’s well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you.”
God desires for us to invest in every season.
God wants us to commit ourselves fully wherever we are.
He wants us to pray for those around us, even those who wish to harm us.
Notice God said if things go well for Israel’s captors, things will go well for the Israelites.
He could have instructed the Israelites to pray for their own well-being. Instead, He specifically instructed them to pray for their captors. Babylon’s blessing would directly benefit the Israelites.
How can you more fully commit to your current season?
A Warning to Us All: Jeremiah 29:8-9 (MSG)
The following verses include God’s warning to the Israelites through Jeremiah (vs. 8-9):
8-9 Yes. Believe it or not, this is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God: “Don’t let all those so-called preachers and know-it-alls who are all over the place there take you in with their lies. Don’t pay any attention to the fantasies they keep coming up with to please you. They’re a bunch of liars preaching lies—and claiming I sent them! I never sent them, believe me.” God’s Decree!
The Israelites had fallen prey to many deceptions in the past. God didn’t want them to be led astray again.
In our world, many continue to be deceived by people preaching false doctrine to justify immorality. Or by those who perpetuate apathy within the body of Christ and preach a powerless Gospel.
If the messages you’re listening to don’t cause transformation in your life and equip you to release God’s transformative power to those around you, you may need to ask God to show you whether you are in the right place.
For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 AMP)
More to the Promise: Jeremiah 29:11
God instructed and warned His people. Then, He promised them hope in Jeremiah 29:11.
For years, I clung to this verse as only a promise of hope. After all, I know God has good plans for my future! But now I see there is much more to this promise.
I love how The Message version words it:
This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
Six Takeaways from Jeremiah 29:11
1. I need to trust God’s timing
2. God always shows up as promised
3. God knows what He’s doing and has planned it out
4. God will take care of me
5. God will never abandon me
6. God will give me the future I HOPE FOR
The Key to Unlocking the Promise: Jeremiah 29:12-14
Notice the quote didn’t end in verse 11. The key is found in verses 12-14:
“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. 13-14 “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.
If we want the future we’ve hoped for, we need to call on God and seek Him more than anything else. Then, we will not be disappointed.
The song “It Is Well With My Soul” was written by Heratio Spafford after he had lost his son, his four daughters, his home, and his career.
I can’t fathom the depths of despair or the extent of his losses. Yet his love for God allowed him to declare even still, it is well with my soul.
I want to live in such passionate pursuit of God that no matter what life throws at me, I can sing and proclaim: “It is well with my soul!”
The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that when we live to bless others and pursue Jesus above all else, God promises to give us the future we hope for.
I pray God speaks to us through His word and strengthens us to faithfully steward our season as we cultivate a deeper love for Jesus and fully embrace His promises.
Hope in the Chaos Blog Series
This post is part of a blog series, Hope in the Chaos, and I’d love to share more encouragement with you. I’ve linked arms with several other sisters in Christ to do just that. Check out the other posts in this series below.
A Time to Dwell
Michelle, from With the Huddlestons, uses the passage of Psalm 91 to really put God’s protection into perspective. Her words of encouragement on dwelling in God’s protection are right on time. Not to mention, she also has a free journal just for you!
How to Find Hope in the Chaos of Mental Illness
At a time when mental illness is at an all-time high, Corine from Therapy for Christians shares inspiration directly from God’s Word. Check out her post for decrees to start declaring over your life today!
Family Worship & Discipleship Guide
Navigating these uncertain times can be challenging. Kimberly from A Family Devoted shares the importance of having family worship and discipleship to help get through anything. And yes, she has a free printable guide for you to use.
Free Gift For You!
As part of the Hope in the Chaos blog series, I’m excited to offer you a free gift!
Click the link below to claim your copy of my free bonus devotion, “Grateful.” This entry serves as a prequel to my book, Dishing Up Devotions.
“Grateful” will challenge us with 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to cultivate gratefulness in your life. It will also help your family exercise gratefulness with a fun family activity and (an adorable!) themed baking session.
Curious what it is? What are you waiting for! Get your free copy now.