Walk in them
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This is one of the oft-quoted verses and held-onto promises in the Bible.
This is used to encourage people for just about any occasion. Who would not be encouraged by the positivity and possibility from this verse? We know that good things will be ahead of us. Do we really know however why the Lord gave this promise? What was happening when He said these famous words?
Let’s look briefly at the book of Jeremiah where this was taken.
Bad times ahead
The people of Israel had been disobedient to the laws of God. Even prophets and priests had become corrupt. The nation had fallen into sin and had no remorse. God was very angry and deeply wronged by Israel’s unfaithfulness. Jeremiah was the last in a series of prophets sent by God in that period of time to warn Israel to turn from their evil ways.
Just like his predecessors, Jeremiah’s warnings were full of terrible events and narrations of the horrible plight the Israelites would be subjected to if they continued on the path they were in. The Israelites did not believe Jeremiah and rejected him like the others before him. Jeremiah was considered to be a troublemaker and would’ve been killed had not Ahikam intervened on his behalf.
Chapter 29 shows that Jerusalem had been captured with its leaders, priests, prophets, and the rest of the people already living in exile in Babylon. Jeremiah through a letter shares God’s instruction for the Israelites while in exile.
Bloom in the desert
The exile will last for 70 years. God tells them to build a life in Babylon and to pray for the city because their lives are now bound to it. He also warns them not to urge prophets to prophesy what they want to hear because that would not be coming from God.
Isn’t it unbelievable that despite already experiencing the consequences of their evil deeds, the Israelites still wanted their own plans to prevail? They wanted the prophets to prophesy to them what they wanted to hear and not what God is saying.
What is even more unbelievable is God’s response to them. He promises the Israelites that after the exile years He will bring them back to Jerusalem! This is also where God says in verse 11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
And then, despite knowing that the Israelites are still rebellious and stubborn, God swings a door wide open for the restoration of their relationship with Him.
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile (verses 12-14).”
All they have to do is call upon God and He will be there for them.
Where we are
We are sort of in an exile. The pandemic forced us into a situation which we are not happy about. We cannot go back to where we were before. God has not abandoned us though and is with us in this journey. He has very good plans for our best interests. More than ever, we should pray for the cities we are in because our welfare is bound up in its welfare.
How will we know what to do moving forward? God wants us to seek Him with all of our hearts. This is our time to come before Him and pour out what is in our hearts. Tell him your greatest worries and fears. Share your dreams. Let go of all your plans. Lay it all before Him. He will meet you at the point of your need.
Here is one timely truth in today’s circumstances.
Seek His face and prepare to receive from Him what He purposed for you here and now.