For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. -Jeremiah 29:11-12
This passage of Scripture is one that many are familiar with. It is popular in prosperity gospel circles and it is a text that is often shared with those who are going through hard times. It is a wonderful passage of Scripture but it is also a text that few are familiar with when it comes to the historical context behind it.
Before Jeremiah had prophesied these wonderful words of hope his prior messages were filled with doom and gloom. God through Jeremiah told Judah that she would be overrun by a foreign power named Babylon. God would use Babylon to bring destruction and judgment upon the people of God because of her arrogance, idolatry, and sin.
God’s judgment is as real today as it was 2600 years ago when these words were written. Unfortunately, the judgment of God has never been well received by people and we certainly live in a time today where many reject the idea that God would judge anyone. “God is a God of love and He would never do that,” they say. It is true, God is a God of love but God is also a God of judgment and His judgments are just. But the good news of the gospel is that His love and grace is greater than His judgments and justice. In this text we see a fulfillment of what Paul talked about in Romans 5 when he said “where sin increased, grace increased all the more!” Yes Judah was judged but the greater purpose of God’s judgment was to discipline her and save her, by bringing her back home in order to prosper her and give her a bright future. Be encouraged because God has great plans for you, even if you have found yourself under God’s loving discipline.