SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” JEREMIAH 29:11?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted ad nauseum in Christendom, especially in “evangelical” and “conservative” circles: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Can and does this apply to us in this the Dispensation of Grace? Should we “name and claim” it? What is it really talking about? It does not matter what the preachers say or the denominations say. What matters is what God’s Word actually says. “For what saith the Scriptures?” If we look at the context, it is apparently clear what Jeremiah 29:11 is discussing and to whom it applies.
Today’s lukewarm Christianity mindlessly quotes Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” However, who quotes Jeremiah 21:10, a verse found in the same Bible book? “For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.” Why does religion just select one appealing verse but toss out the verses that do not support the system they are promoting? What dishonesty! What a shameful way to treat the Book of the God of the universe.
THE CONTEXT OF JEREMIAH 29:11
Before JEHOVAH God could have good thoughts toward Jerusalem and the nation Israel, He had to first deal with their sins. Rather than relying on God’s grace—God freely giving them everything they needed—they agreed to enter into a covenant with Him (Exodus chapters 19-24). This was the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law (part of it was the Ten Commandments). Israel contracted to perform perfectly to gain His blessings and acceptance; to fail in a single point was to merit His wrath and curses. Even today, “Christian” people get hung up on Israel’s works-religion system. They never learned the lesson of Israel’s history. Shame!
Exodus 19:3-6: “ And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;  Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”
“And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:25).
Finally, Deuteronomy chapter 28: “ And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:  And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God….  And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.  But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:….”
Israel was doomed to fail right from day 1, but God loves freedom so much that He gave them exactly what they wanted. They wanted religion, and they got just that, along with the consequences of weak human nature.
So, we reach the time of the Prophet Jeremiah. Nine hundred years after the ratification of the Mosaic system, and Israel (technically, the southern kingdom of Judah) is entering the fifth course of judgment. What began in the book of Judges (because of her pagan idolatry) is now in its fifth and final phase—after four previous attempts of JEHOVAH trying to reform them with chastisement, Leviticus 26:27-39 says Israel must now be removed from the Promised Land. Jeremiah 21:10 is Jeremiah’s message from God to warn Judah that the Babylonian armies are coming: Jerusalem will be sacked, its walls burned to the ground, the Temple destroyed, and the Jews will be led away captive to present-day Iraq. The Jews are instructed not to fight but rather capitulate to their enemies’ desires. In 586 B.C., Jerusalem was decimated—the Babylonians cleansed JEHOVAH’S land of idolatry. Jeremiah 29:11 is Israel’s hope in such a hopeless condition!
We read in Jeremiah 29:14: “And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” From 606 B.C. to 536 B.C., Judah was captive in Babylon. JEHOVAH told them that after those 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; cf. Daniel 9:2), He would bring these Jews back to Jerusalem; He would not leave them hopeless, for He still had marvelous plans for them despite their unbelief and disobedience.
Read Jeremiah 29:11 in its context: “ For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”
The Jewish Bible, which ends with 2 Chronicles, concludes with Israel back in her homeland (chapter 36): “ And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:  To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,  Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”
These two Jewish expeditions from exile to Jerusalem are recorded in the Bible books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Nevertheless, many Jews are still scattered worldwide today, and certainly not enjoying God’s earthly kingdom as they should have. Again, Jeremiah 29:11 is Israel’s hope in such a hopeless condition!
We read in Jeremiah 23:5-6: “ Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.  In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
The Old Testament “Major Prophets” (the five “large” books of Isaiah through Daniel) and the “Minor Prophets” (the 12 “small” books of Hosea through Malachi) have two main themes—God’s judgment on the Jews in response to their centuries of pagan idolatry by forcing them out of His land, and God’s forgiving and restoring Israel to return to that Promised Land and enjoy His earthly kingdom forever. Although Jeremiah devoted large portions of his ministry and book to that impending divine wrath, the Holy Spirit moved him to also preach and write verses that declared that God’s Messiah would come to deliver Israel from the religious (spiritual), social, and political mess in which she put herself (see Jeremiah 23:5-6 above).
While Judah was captive in Babylon, JEHOVAH revealed to the Prophet Daniel that in addition to 70 years necessary for the Promised Land’s cleansing, 70 weeks of years (or 490 years) were needed to cleanse the Jewish people (Daniel 9:24-27). After this 490-year period, Messiah would come and deliver Israel from her sins and her enemies. Once Jesus Christ came, Israel had the prospect to be a redeemed people in a cleansed land. Just as that 69th week of years expired, they delivered Him to the Romans to have Him die on an awful Roman cross. He resurrected and returned to heaven rejected.
Now, one seven-year period (Daniel’s 70th week) remains on the prophetic calendar before Jesus Christ can return for Israel and establish her kingdom (Jeremiah 23:5-6). When He comes the second time, He will use His blood shed at Calvary to establish a New Covenant to take away Israel’s sins (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 3:19; Romans 11:26,27; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17). Yes, Jeremiah 29:11 is still true—God’s wonderful plans for Israel are to be fulfilled in His own time!
Jerusalem, the Babylonians are coming, the Babylonians are coming!
Jerusalem, the Jews are coming, the Jews are coming!
Jerusalem, the Messiah is coming, the Messiah is coming!
JEREMIAH 29:11 AND US IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE
Never once does our Apostle Paul quote Jeremiah 29:11 as applicable to us. It is a good verse, a wonderful verse, but it is not to or about us. It is to and about the nation Israel. The basic fallacy in Christendom today has been the 2,000-year-long practice of grabbing Israel’s verses, completely disregarding the contexts, and making them apply to us. For example, Matthew 28:19-20, Isaiah 45:15, Acts 2:38, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 55:11, Matthew 16:18, James 5:14-16, Deuteronomy 8:18, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Malachi 3:8-11, et cetera. Jeremiah 29:11 applies to people who were taken captive to Babylon (verse 10!). Were we ever in Babylonian captivity? No, but Israel was. We cannot claim verse 10 as true of us; therefore, verse 11 does not apply to us either. Let us leave Jeremiah 29:11 exactly where it is in the Bible, and no confusion will result. It really is that simple.
Friend, if you want some positive, uplifting verses, wonderful promises from God, why not believe God’s Word to you rather than stealing Israel’s verses and ignoring their context? Friend, you search the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon, and you see such glorious truths true of us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace and members of the Church the Body of Christ:
Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”
1 Corinthians 1:30: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”
2 Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Colossians 1:13-14: “ Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
Romans 5:8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Philippians 1:6,11: “ Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:…  Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
Titus 3:4-7: “ But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;  Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”