Thursday, July 1, 2010
Jeremiah 29:11: Another Abused Scripture
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says the Lord, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Does this passage apply to the individual person? Absolutely not. The context is God’s discussion about Israel - the passage is about the nation of Israel, not about individual persons.
A question that must be asked is, COULD this passage in a different context apply to the individual? I have to answer, “NO.” I don’t think the Scripture says that God has a specific plan for each individual, other than allowing them to do what they want. And certainly we can’t say that God’s plan is for everyone to avoid evil when we have so many Christians martyred around the world. The only “future” and “hope” all Christians can look forward to is our eventual eternal life with the Lord. But while on earth, I’d say too many people have no hope of any future beyond the day’s survival.
Too often people (usually Calvinists) want to make God out to be nothing more than a puppet-master, with everyone’s lives preplanned from eternity past. Rick Warren, in his Purpose Driven Life, says God chooses when you are going to be born, who you will be born to, what color your hair and eyes will be, and even what you are doing this very moment. Can you imagine someone with congenital defects being told that God wanted him to be that way? What sort of a God is that?!?!?
Scripture does tell us God’s desires for us, but we are given freedom to choose how to live. The Holy Spirit will guide Christians, but they can still ignore him and do wrong anyway. God may lead us, but we don’t have to follow; that’s why we still sin. God does not force himself on anyone.
Now, can we take this passage in conjunction with many other passages from Scripture to demonstrate a principle about God’s attributes? Yes. But we can’t isolate this passage from its context and claim it for ourselves. It has nothing to do with the individual.