THE PLANS OF GOD (Part 2)
Two weeks ago we began a short journey in Jeremiah 29. We have discovered how through the discipline of God the Jewish people had been exiled to Babylon, but encouraged by a letter written to them by the prophet Jeremiah. God gives them instructions and promises through His word. Verse 11 keys in on three things that display the heart and character of God. It says the following; Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version) 11 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.
Three things stand out in this passage and they are as follows
“I know the plans I have for you”
Firstly God has plans for His people. Life may appear haphazard. History has been described as being like the tracks made on white paper by the feet of a drunken fly. But no, life is not random, meaningless, or absurd. God had plans for the exiles; He has plans for us as well. What do you think this means? What kind of plans? We all make plans in life don’t we? Whether it’s a social outing with friends, a dinner with family, or on a much larger scale, a vacation! Plans are made for every event from marriage to education or what we are having for supper that night. When God speaks about plans, it’s not about the trivial or the things that he has entrusted to us, it is about the shaping of our lives through the things He places in our way. Often we make choices based on those things and as we trust Him we recognize that those were His plans for us, He just allows us to make those choices and as we look back we see His hand all the way. Do you have an experience like that?
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you”
Secondly, God knows His plans. He does not necessarily divulge them, but He has them and knows them. Parents begin to make plans for their children before they are born; so does our heavenly Father. Because of God’s character we know He is good and that He is kind. The scriptures say, “God is love”. Sometimes, He will allow us to encounter adversity in our lives that eventually will lead to blessing. The Jewish people viewed their banishment from their homeland as a violation of their freedom, their growth as a nation stunted and their culture not being allowed to flourish. The instruction though was that they should grow and pursue life to the fullest in the normal ways of life. As we saw last week in verse 10 where it says “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.” The promise was there and the Lord fulfilled it. What we saw was how the Jews did just that and they prospered in the exile. They filled influential positions and were able to show that their God was faithful even in this situation. We have the account of this in the book of Daniel with him and his friends making clear statements of faith that they would honor their God and not give into idolatry. (See Daniel 1)
“Plans to give you hope and a future”
Thirdly, God’s plans are good plans. The Babylonian exiles must have found this hard to believe, but God was determined to give them “hope and a future”. Have you ever been in a place emotionally, physically or spiritually and you wonder, where is the light at the end of the tunnel? The Jews felt that way and God’s promises to those that belong to Him are as good today as they were then. Children always desire to grow up quickly so they can do things like drive, stay up late, and eat what they want. The process, and discipline of education and learning in life, helps us as we grow. When we are at the age to take on responsibilities we realize why those things were in place for us to learn from. In 2 Corinthians 4 we are encouraged to trust in what is unseen, what is eternal. In verse 17 it says that, “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”. God’s plans have our ultimate good in mind and as we focus on that we can trust historical facts of people’s testimonies in the Bible as well as those who surround us in our daily lives. Finally in Romans 8:28 God assures us that He works all things together for our good. At the beginning of those seventy years it must have looked bleak, but as they looked back, many probably could say, "We have hope". And as they returned to Jerusalem, they could say, “We have a future”.
By: Pastor David Jones