“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.” Jeremiah 29:11
The key text used to be the go-to “life” verse I held on to during tough times. Many well-meaning Christians use this verse to declare blessings over themselves and others, but when reading it in biblical context, we discover its accurate meaning. God’s Word is full of promises to His people, but when those promises are out of context and misapplied, it will only lead to troublesome stumbling blocks. Even the promises of God need to be in context. We must look at where the promise lies within biblical history, and if that promise is a general promise to all believers -regardless of time period or receiver - or if it is a specific promise to a certain group of people or person, within a specific time frame in biblical history.
This key promise was for the Israelites while they were in exile. In previous text, the prophet Jeremiah was admonishing the false prophet, Hananiah, and predicts his death. Hananiah falsely prophesied peace for Israel, and they listening to him. Jeremiah continues by telling the Israelites that they would continue in exile for 70 more years. The promise was for after the 70 years was up. It was God’s judgment on them. In context this verse was not meant for a blessing or promise to us now. Sisters, we can’t cherry pick the Word of God. The Bible is not meant for us to open up and point our finger and claim a verse as God’s promise to us. Yes, His Word is filled with promises, but our approach to the Word should be in context, and to see where it falls within biblical history. God’s promises are often paired with “if’s”, so they can be conditional upon our obedience. Promises are not so God can be our personal genie in a bottle; He does not bow and bend to our will. Let’s study the whole Word of God, not be selective in verse grabbing.
Father, help me to see Your Word as a whole, to understand the why, what, where, and to whom for Your promises. Instill in me a passion to diligently study your Word in all its glory.
Sisters, there are some great resources out there to help you study the Word of God, biblically. Here are just a few! Women of the Word, Ligonier Ministries, Logos Bible Software, She Shall Be Called, and Biblical Training.