Commentary by Walter Albritton

July 29, 2007


The Prophet Gives us Hope that God’s Plans for us are Good


Jeremiah 29:1-14

Key Verse: For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. – Jeremiah 29:11  

Jeremiah warned the people of Judah that disaster was coming. Then disaster came. Babylonia’s armies escorted the Jews out of Jerusalem into exile. The prophet was not forced to leave the holy city. From there he continued to pray and counsel the people to have faith in God.

His message to the people was one of hope. He felt he had a message for them from God. He advised them not to give up. He assured them that the exile would end one day. In the meantime the people should live as unto God even while in captivity. His advice to them was to make the most of a very difficult situation and trust God for a better day.

Refuse to feel sorry for yourselves, Jeremiah said. Do not indulge in self-pity. Get busy doing positive things. Build homes. Plant gardens. Enjoy food from your own gardens. Raise families. Give your sons and daughters in marriage so they can have children and multiply. Get over your disappointments and enjoy life.

Remember that you in Babylonia because God sent you there. You are where he wants you to be just now. So work for the good of your new home town and pray for its prosperity. Pray for the city of your captivity.

This must have been strong medicine for the people to swallow. They were not to hate their captors but pray for them to prosper. Your welfare is dependant upon the welfare of the city in which you now live.

Evidently Jeremiah had received word back that there were false prophets in Babylonia, telling lies to the Jews. He warns the people not to believe the lies they were hearing. Instead accept your punishment and understand that God is still in charge. When he has finished punishing you, he will bring you back home. God will not fail to keep his promise to bring you back to Jerusalem.

Our key verse is one of the most beautiful verses in the whole Bible. Countless times we encourage one another by remembering the conviction of the prophet: God has good plans for your life! Though God will allow bad things to happen to us, it is never his intention to harm us. Because God’s plans for us are good, we can expect to have a future with hope.

Not that we will be spared hard times. After all, our Lord Jesus makes it clear that “in this world you will have tribulation.” We will have trouble. But when trouble comes, we can call upon God and he will hear us. Reflect on the solid hope we find in verses 13-14 as given in the New Living Translation:

     If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

What good news it is that God does not play “hide and seek“ with us. We may hide from God, cowering in our guilt, but he never hides from us. He waits eagerly for us to seek him, and when we do, we find him! God respects our freedom, the freedom he has given us as his children, so he chooses not to force his way into our hearts. In love he waits, even as the father of the prodigal son waited with open arms for his lost son to come home.

We need to recover Jeremiah’s confidence that in spite of the global chaos of our day, God is still in charge. Nothing surprises God. When things are dark and dreadful, God is not discouraged. He has a plan. We need to pray for wisdom to live within his plan, and embrace his gracious will for our lives. If for some reason you have wandered far away from God, and your future seems hopeless, repent of your sins and seek the Lord “with all your heart.”  You must mean business. You must not be half-hearted. But if you will seek the Lord wholeheartedly, you will find him!

Perhaps a better way to say it is that he will find you. He comes running to you whenever you seek him with all your heart. When he finds you, he will take you in his loving arms, forgive your sins, and give you a fresh start. He will give you the grace to trust his plans for your life. He will give you hope for your future. He will be with you and never forsake you. You will not find a better offer in the universe.

Jeremiah made the offer. Jesus confirmed it with his life, death and resurrection. Joy, salvation, and intimacy with God are yours for the asking! If you have already accepted his offer, why not tell some troubled beggar where to find bread!    (Contact Walter at