…. 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 the complete verse
For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 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. 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.”
Jeremiah 29:10-14 ESV
There is a difference between what we know, and what is actually there. For the majority of my life, I have known this verse in many many respects. In one of the lowest points of my life and my wife’s life, when my son, Oliver, was a baby and we did not know if he was going to survive the next day or the next hour, a friend of ours gave us this verse to meditate on and to find strength. This verse is very powerful and it has so many deep meanings as well. But as I was reading and meditating on these passages this week, it has a more profound meaning for me. This has been a verse in my heart since my childhood, but really held a prominent place during this period of my life.
The majority of the time we look at this verse in Jeremiah for strength in the midst of our adversities and our weaknesses. But when we really look at the full scope of this, it gives us even more peace. It shows us that God is actually preparing things way in advance for us. He knows what’s happening far in advance. At this point, Jeremiah is telling the people about their exile and about the people who will come and conquer them, and how God will make provisions for them. God is also showing how He will bring the people out of the exile. He even tells them specific times and how God will release everybody from exile.
In the 24th chapter of Jeremiah, we see how God is selecting us, who are his children to be protected in the midst of adversity. He shows that doing and before the exile how he protects his figs or his people.
“After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord. One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
In Jeremiah , we have a glimpse of what is happening to the exile individuals that go into Babylon. He specifically speaks about Nebuchadnezzar . When we reference back to Daniel, we see how God has provided for Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel, in the midst of their exile out in Babylon. In this passage in Jeremiah, he shows how he would already protect them from everything and in this passage and Jeremiah we also see that God uses Nebuchadnezzar for his benefit.
Whenever I read Daniel, I always would see Nebuchadnezzar as the villain. But this passage in Jeremiah shows how God can use unlikely people in unlikely places to be blessings upon us for his benefit.
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.”
This passage gives me hope, and makes me smile in the midst of adversity and hardships, which we go through on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Sometimes it can feel insurmountable while we’re in the moment. But then God gives us peace in revelation, and how he will provide for us. In this moment, God is showing us that he has a plan for us before we even could understand it. He had a plan for the people 70+ years before they even knew what was going to happen. He had a plan for us, benefiting us through him. He’s not just going to leave it to chance. He has specific plans for us. Let us take solace in his plans for us.