It feels like the only constant thing during this time is fluctuation and uncertainty, so I personally needed some encouragement in the middle of the chaos. "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope" What I love about Jeremiah 29:11 really comes from its juxtaposition with Jeremiah 28:1-29:10 and beyond. In chapter 28, we find Hananiah the false prophet declaring the "word of the Lord" to the newly subjugated nation of Israel. He even goes as far as doing a "prophetic act" (Jer. 28:10-11), claiming that within two full years God "will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations...". Jeremiah goes away and God physically responds to Jeremiah saying: “Go and tell Hananiah, ‘This is what the Lord says: You have broken a wooden yoke, but you have replaced it with a yoke of iron. 14 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I have put a yoke of iron on the necks of all these nations, forcing them into slavery under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control.’” Hananiah consequently dies that year as a consequence of his false prophecy (Jer. 28:15-17). The word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah again, saying that Israel will be in Babylonian captivity for not two years, but seventy years. Everyone's plans just came to a screeching halt with no definitive end in sight. But the beauty is found in His instruction to His people (Jer 29:4-11) This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
8 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, 9 because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.
10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Many of us during this pandemic have had our entire lives come to a screeching halt with no definitive end in sight. Some have experienced tremendous loss on numerous levels. But we can still have hope that, even though things may go the polar opposite of the desired outcome, that God will do for us all that He has promised, for His plans are always for our good. Love you all. - Leonard