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A Deeper Dive Into Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:11—with its references to God’s plans, prosperity, protection from harm, peace, and a future filled with hope—is often offered as a spiritual “security blanket” to people who are struggling. The verse has inspired and comforted countless believers who interpret it to mean that if they endure their immediate circumstances, they will emerge victorious, triumphant, and celebrated in God’s ultimate plan of prosperity. They anticipate a moment when their suffering ends and their flourishing begins.

Israel in Exile

The context of the Old Testament passage, however, casts a different light on the verse. Here’s the situation. The people of Israel were in exile in Babylon. Their homeland had been conquered by the Babylonians, and they had been taken prisoners as punishment for their disobedience to God.

In exile, the Israelites were desperate for hope. And a false prophet named Hananiah was only too happy to take advantage of their desperation. Hananiah proclaimed that God would free the Israelites from captivity and return them to their homeland within two years, which was a lie. So the task fell to Jeremiah, the true prophet of God, to set matters straight.

God’s True Plan

Jeremiah exposes Hananiah’s lie, and in Jeremiah 29:11 he quotes God’s actual promise. The Lord did, in fact, have a plan for the Israelites—one that offered hope and a prospering future. But it wasn’t the plan that the Israelites envisioned. In fact, God’s plan was approximately 180 degrees from what the Israelites envisioned.

The details of God’s plan are tied to a set of instructions found four verses earlier. “And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7). God linked the Israelites’ hope and future prosperity to the success and prosperity of Babylon.

Hope in Captivity

In order to realize the blessings of God’s promise, the Israelites had to pray for and work toward the prosperity of their enemies, the very people who had made them slaves! The hope and future God had in store for them did not include an immediate return to their homeland or the restoration of their freedom—the two things the Israelites wanted most. In fact, in verse 10, God announces that the Babylonian captivity would last for “seventy years.” The generation of Israelites to whom Jeremiah prophesied had no hope of ever seeing their homeland again.

What they had instead was hope in the midst of captivity—the unexpected hope that is revealed through spiritual growth, the hard-earned spiritual growth that occurs only through perseverance, the perseverance that is learned from enduring difficult circumstances with God’s help.

What is Our Hope?

So what do we take away from Jeremiah 29:11? First, if we put our trust in Christ, we can anticipate an ultimately glorious future—one spent in God’s presence for eternity. Second, God’s plans for His people in this world rarely involve helping us escape from our trials completely. He doesn’t make our suffering disappear. Instead, He helps us persevere through them. He helps us grow and mature in ways we wouldn’t otherwise grow and mature apart from tough times. He helps us find joy in the unlikeliest of circumstances. It’s the kind of joy that affects not just our lives but the lives of others as well. He prospers us in ways that expand our understanding of prosperity.

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Lucado Encouraging Word Bible is designed to encourage believers along their journey with the Lord. Max Lucado’s warm, conversational style ensures that the marginal notes, short articles, and various study tools meet you where you are, providing encouragement and insight. This Bible will strengthen you as you follow the included reading plan and incorporate this Bible into your daily devotional life.

28 comments on “A Deeper Dive Into Jeremiah 29:11

  1. Olawolu Olatunde says:

    Illuminating and inspiring.

  2. Oliver Roberson says:

    This was an excellent read. I am interested to read more.

  3. Kenneth Crocker says:

    Thank you!

  4. Lurline Breeden says:

    Wonderful to hear the complete story of Jeremiah 29:11 explained.

  5. NATALIE ANGEL says:

    Thank You Jesus for Blessing my life, and this devotional truly ministered to me this morning! I’ve only now begun to realize life without Christ being front and center simply leaves room for all the negative to fill me up. My prayer today is to empty myself of ME and fill my life with Christ. God Bless You for sharing.

  6. Joyce Haveman says:

    I opened this email out of curiosity, and it was a direct answer to a conversation I had just had with a friend who has moved far from home and is struggling with regret.
    Just to let you know the Holy Spirit used you.

  7. Patricia Pulley says:

    Thank you so much`. I needed this encouraging word today, and God sent it to me knowing my heart is broken and aching, My world seems disastrous right now, but I trust God with my whole heart. Thank you, again and again.

  8. James Queen says:

    I like the breakdown of the verse because that is one of my favorite

  9. Daniel Robbins says:

    This verse is so misused! Thanks for speaking the truth regarding its intent in our lives or more so that of Israel 🙂

  10. Alan Kemnitzer says:

    Working toward and praying for the prosperity of our enemies is a good behavior to initiate and to pursue. Who among God’s present-day people could not find a blessing and benefit in that, even as we supplicate the Father for those personal plans and interests we have submitted to His good pleasure.

  11. Sam Tayo says:

    So thoughtful….
    God bless you sir

  12. Randall Laraway says:

    Jeremiah 29:11 has been preached on & taught numerous times. Although, such messages are well, good, and inspire the intended audience, I for one, find it difficult to grasp the import of 29:11 without the following verses included:
    “Then you will call on ME and come and pray to ME, and I will listen to 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 will bring you back from captivity.” (Vs 12-14a)
    Therefore, upon hearing of God’s marvelous plans per V 11, can we say these plans can be expounded on without considering the condition of the Israelite’s hearts? And, what of our heart’s condition today? God’s plans for us, great…but are we not still in captivity without the “rest of the message”?

  13. Jim Kauth says:

    God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. Jesus Himself was perfected by His sufferings. Paul boasted in his weakness that the power of God would rest upon him. Hmmm. Weaknesses and sufferings are opportunities to see the power, grace, and love of God abound in your life. This is why God’s presence is so strong in prisons, rehabs, and shelters. God doesn’t remove you from your problems, he enters you and makes you see your weakness and suffering with joy – for without it you wouldn’t know Him as He wishes to be known. In street lingo – the suffering and weak are God’s homies. God loves humility. Why? because He is the most humble being that exists.

  14. Michael says:

    Wow, I love this short lesson, I just had my fifth hip replacement on my left hip and during these times of being down both physically and emotionally I found myself studying and most of all praying more than I probably ever have except for the time I was in school at Liberty. I have not been to church hardly in the last year because of my hip complications, but my prayer life has doubled since I have been “slowed down.” If I was still physically able I would be blowing and going full time and been too busy to have this new prayer life, although I surely do miss my church family I have drawn closer to God in these difficult circumstances. Thank you for the lesson!

  15. Boitumelo says:

    This reminds me of my years of unemployment (which I’m still in). At times, I’d have an idea of what God is doing. And some times the desperation to get out my situation would blind me from God’s primary intentions about my situation. But thanks for shedding the light into this verse.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    This explanation on Jeremiah 29;11 as helped me to understand the verse better.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    The explanation of the book of Jeremiah 29:11 was extremely helpful.

  18. Jhunaide S. Sarip says:

    Praise God for this message, thank you to the Holy Spirit for letting me to read this article. Thank you Sir/Mam, I became motivated and encouraged after i read the passage. I learned that Jeremiah 29:11 has deeper meaning, and God doesn’t make our suffering disappear. Instead, He helps us persevere through them.

  19. Damian says:

    God is good always!

  20. Hazlett Lynch says:

    What a wonderfully enlightening and contextual treatment of this often-misunderstood verse. Thank you.

  21. Christine says:

    The excerpt is very encouraging indeed. I am blessed reading this.

  22. Ezekiel says:

    I agree with this interpretation. It is faithful to the Biblical context informed the author’s thoughts.

  23. Dwght says:

    Thank you for a better understanding of God’s word

  24. Dr Foluso Olomolaiye says:

    Thanks for the comments on Jeremiah 29:11. Many people simply quote the verse forgetting to mention that God wants us to endure our current difficulties while praying for God to bless us and others in the society in which we function – be they believers or non-believers.
    I am going to re-read the whole chapter again. Thank you for the inspiration.

  25. Allan Kenagy says:

    Thank you for a view of God and Gods Word that calls us to consider more than ourselves.
    Our motivation can not be ourselves and our comfort and ease if we hope to find truth in God and His promises…. that lead us to Him and His prosperity for His community and the lost.
    May His story include us as we consider finding Him and His plan as our greatest joy

  26. Gail B. Johnson says:

    This was good. Explanation of this passage of scripture very , very helpful and enlightening, consistent with the Word of God.

  27. Carl Wiersum says:

    So very true. It’s been almost two years since my wife passed away after a two year battle with cancer. The Lord made our faith grow through that trial, and now I am growing closer to Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord every day. I am sharing the good news of the Gospel with others at every opportunity. Looking forward to that day when I shall see Him face to face.

  28. Joel sabela says:

    That is the most acurate teaching I ever read or head about Jer 29:11. Thank you so much, it is life changing.

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