As followers of Christ, we tend to believe that we should be protected by God from everything evil and blessed with everything good. So, we read the Bible and quote it saying, “God has promised me a hope and a future. He has plans to prosper me.” However, we fail to realize this wasn’t a promise to 21st-century believers.
Here’s why we say that:
“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 ESV
Other translations phrase it like this: “plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” And generally, whenever we hear money, I mean prosper, we tend to think money, money, money! Along with that money comes time and freedom that apparently can’t be found elsewhere…
When reading the Bible, there are certain rules of literature we must pay attention to. Historical happenings (what was actually going down at that moment in history) and original intent (what the author meant to say to his original audience) are a couple of things we need to consider when reading a passage from the Bible.
The prophet Jeremiah is delivering a message from God to the nation of Judah. They have been defeated in war and taken captive to a land called Babylon.
During this exile in Babylon is the time period where we read about Daniel (Dn. 9:2),and his crazy events with the Lions Den among other miraculous ways God displayed His presence with Daniel.
While the nation was away from their homeland founded by God, they weren’t cut off from God’s presence.
Jeremiah was commissioned by God to bring messages of judgment to a nation that no longer worshiped God from their hearts. However, through Jeremiah, God makes it clear He is looking for repentance and righteousness in the nation as well as inside of individuals.
Jeremiah looked forward to the day when God would do something new inside of the hearts of mankind. He foresaw a time when everyone would have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God. Jeremiah prophesied about the redemption God has provided through Jesus Christ (Jer. 31:31-34).
The people longed to return to their true home, where they could worship the One True God. But, many false prophets ran around saying they were bringing a message from God that, essentially, they shouldn’t submit to the Babylonian rule.
However, God indicates that was clearly a lie. The nations that would submit to Babylonian rule were the nations that God would eventually allow to return to their homeland (Jer. 27:8-11).
Those who heard Jeremiah were familiar with his prophecies, they brought judgement upon those who were living in disobedience to the Lord. But, within these judgements were glimmers of hope. That God would indeed do what He had promised and after a time of exile in Babylon, God would restore His people to their homeland.
What “Hope and a Future” Means for Us Today
The physical fulfilment of that promise came to God’s people when He restored the Jews back to their homeland, removing them from exile. But, is there a spiritual principle we can learn from that? Possibly.
The primary thing we can learn from this portion of Scripture isn’t that we are promised a good and prosperous life on earth. We aren’t. In fact, the opposite is true. When we decide to follow Christ we are told by Jesus that we can expect to be persecuted.
Nonetheless, we are to look forward to our hope. Our hope is in Christ. And Christ has given us a promise if we would follow Him, that we will enter into His eternal kingdom. We are being restored to a lost kingdom, the kingdom of God.
We do have a hope and a future, but it may not be in this physical realm. Our hope may not rest in the comforts of this life. Our hope rests in Christ, and our future lies with Him in heaven.