Daily Devotional Bible Verse

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 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 29:10-11 ESV)

This text is perennially popular, making appearances on graduation cards, refrigerator magnets, and especially coffee table books. It’s a powerful promise to be sure, but often we focus only on verse eleven, and in doing so dilute the prophecy’s original intention. When we do this, we substitute our own meaning for God’s, and if we allow ourselves to become comfortable with this habit we are simply fabricating our own religion.

You see, this promise was bitter-sweet, not just sweet. It was sweet because God was assuring his scattered people that he would gather them back together, and that he had beautiful, bright, and hopeful intentions for his people Israel. The same is true for the church today, as we have become spiritual Israelites and he does have wonderful plans for us; but there was a bitterness to this news as well that should not be forgotten.

A “generation” is classically thought of as seventy years, and in a sense, God was going to let an entire generation of Israelites pass away before he would gather them again; this meant those who would die would never again see a restored Israel, a restored identity. In fact, in the preceding verses he was basically telling them, “Get comfortable, have a family and get a job, because you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.”

The ironic thing is, this word came in response to false prophets’ lies. They were telling the people just the opposite, that they would be gathered within two years. Essentially, they were saying what was comfortable to make the people “feel good” and like them, but our relationship with God isn’t always about the immediate emotional response of feeling happy, but about being in right standing, honoring him as God and living in light of that truth.

Remember that God does have a future and a hope for our welfare, but never substitute feeling “warm and fuzzy” for his truth or we may start fabricating religion, and we aren’t very good gods.