In this essay, the main focus is analyzing a text in the bible from the book of Jeremiah, “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” (New International Version, Jer. 29. 11). In most cases, some believer take a particular verse and use it to justify a certain idea, without considering the background of the text. In this text, possible interpretation may be projected from a perspective of Gods declaration to a person without necessarily considering the conditions that might apply. From a direct interpretation its can be noted that God has a divine plan for every person, since He is the creator of all, therefore, He has best plans in His mind for us (Clements 74). God intends to make everyone prosper and provide protection against all kinds of harm in order to ensure a better future and great hope.
The Pericope of the Text
It would not be appropriate to interpret the verse by lifting it from its foundation and interpreting its meaning without linking the idea of other verses around it. It would be appropriate to begin from verse ten in order to understand what lead to Gods promises in verse eleven. Verse ten expresses the reason why God intends to restore the people of Israel. It clearly show that the people of Israel will be subjected to Babylonians for seventy year then later Gods plan for His people will be manifested through the restoration (Fretheim 112). It is therefore in this restoration that God assures the people of Israel that the plan He has for them will not lead to destruction but it will give them hope and good future.
It would not be reasonable to make interpretation of verse eleven without verse twelve and thirteen. Verse 12 and 13 complements verse 11 in the sense that, they offer condition that when obeyed will translate to the promises that are in verse11. Whenever God made promises to the people of Israel, there were conditions that were supposed to be fulfilled by the people in order to be partakers of the blessings (Clements 88). It was God mandate to honor the promises that He made and it was upon the people to obey the conditions that were put in those promises. In some cases, the believers go for the promises that God makes in His word and often forget the conditions that should be honored. The condition of becoming a part of this promises are praying to God and seeking Him with all our heart (Allen 297). Therefore, the other verses provide a complete meaning to verse 11. It is therefore important to employ a culture of getting appropriate background in the biblical context in order to get the true interpretation of the word. Many cults have been formed as a result of poor interpretation of the bible by taking a particular verses and making interpretation of them without seeking the relevant historical background (Sayour 58).
Meaning of the Verse
In order to be able to make a personal interpretation it is important to understand the background of the text. This involves understanding the situation that led to such a declaration by God. There is also the need to understand the situation of the author that compelled such a statement, including the historical, geographical and cultural contest for the particular text. Most believers get a scope of a small section of a verse, which appears sweeter or meatier, to make personal justifications against certain issues that engulf them (Sayour 58). However, despite the historical context of the word, it relates to our life today and it therefore applicable once the true meaning is conceptualized. One thing that a true believer must understand is that the word of God is inspired word and most ‘important part of the word is the spiritual or better still, the revelation message of the word. The text contains important key words which includes; future, hope, prosper and plans. In the verse, the word ‘for’ has been used just as it would apply with the word ‘because’. For God to declare that He has plans for us, it would be appropriate to understand the meaning of the word “plan”. A plan involves careful consideration and a lot of diligence which may mean there is considerable energy applied in coming up with a “plan”.
By using the word “I know”, God makes it a personal mandate, it is within His control. Actually, it is not upon the people’s opinion, or people’s knowledge to gain prosperity and have a better future, but it is upon Gods planning. In this case, what a believer needs to do is to accept Gods plan, because the plan is already available from Gods perspective. The plans that God intends to bring into action are not from the people mind but they originate from His thoughts. It is certain that the creator knows what is best for His creation and it would be rather ironical for the creation to object the master’s plan (Allen 297).
The Historical Context of the Passage
The historical background that can be linked with text begins from the warning that prophet Jeremiah gives to the people of Judah. The rampant idolatry practice by the people of Judah would lead them to captivity in Babylon because Yahweh would bring judgment upon them (Allen 296). However, God mercy would be revealed to them again because they are in the plans of God. God never intended to let his people suffer in captivity forever. Nevertheless, He punishes the sins of his people through subjecting them to suffering and slavery to the Babylonians.
The Relation of the Text to the Story of Israel
In the context of Jeremiah 29:11, God promises restoration for the people of Judah to the land He had given them (Allen 296). God declares that He knows the plans that He has for the people of Israel, despite the fact that they have sinned against Him by worshiping idols. Remembering that God had made a covenant with Abraham to increase and bless his generation, the people of Judah are part of that promise. Therefore, it would be against His promise if He does not restore the people of Judah. Restoring the people of Judah implied that God’s plan for them were uncompromised. This clearly indicates that despite the thing that makes us to be punished by God; His intensions are to give us a better future.
Application of the Verse to Our World Setting Today
Despite the fact that the scriptures was written to signify God’s intension for the people of Israel, it is relevant and applicable in our lives today. Having the understanding of how the Gentiles or those who are not considered to be Jews became partaker of Abrahams promises and blessings, it is therefore in order to take it as the word spoken by God to us. We all understand that we were created by God and therefore we are entitled to the plan that He has for our own good. In most situation people designs their own plans and expect God to fit in those plans. Instead, the believers should understand that God has plans which they should accept in order to succeed and have prosperous future (Brueggemann 105). Every believer who has acknowledged God superiority over his/her life must accept Gods plan in order to qualify for the promises that God make in Jeremiah 29:11. God’s perfect plan is always the most excellent in bringing out the best from us. It is therefore vital to understand the plan that God has for your life in order to prosper. As much as the believers endeavors to enjoy the promises that God has made to them, it is within their mandate to choose to accept Gods plan through adhering to the conditions that are connect with every promise. God has good plans for every person; however, not every person prospers. This is a clear suggestion of how God operate through our faith. The choices that people take make them differ in their lives greatly. It is possible for God to have a good plan for a person and the person fail to connect with His intended plan. This is because God does not compel us to fit in his plan but He allows the free will to operate in us. However, He reveals His good intensions and plans to us once we develop an intimate relationship with Him.
Allen, Leslie C. Jeremiah: A Commentary. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008. Print.
Brueggemann, Walter. A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 1998. Print.
Clements, Ronald Ernest. Jeremiah. Westminster John Knox Press, 1988.
Fretheim, Terence E. Jeremiah. Vol. 15. Smyth & Helwys Pub, 2002.
New International Version. [Colorado Springs]: Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com. Web. 3 Mar. 2011.
Sayour, George E. Plans to Prosper You: Find You Purpose Through Jeremiah 29. Enumclaw, WA: Pleasant Word, 2008. Print.