Jeremiah 29:11 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Jer 29:11  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 is often used for a prooftext to claim that God has plans for every person’s life, and often extended to mean that God then brings those plans about by micromanaging all coincidences one experiences. God, it is said, has intricate and detailed plans for everyone which He is constantly bringing to fruition. But Jeremiah 29:11 is just not about this. In context, Jeremiah is addressing Israel. This verse is about the Babylonian exile. Those being addressed are exilic Israel:

Jer 29:1  These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 

The benefit is specifically stated, and national in scope:

Jer 29:10  “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. 

This verse is about God’s plans for cooperate Israel. Any extension of the meaning to individuals in the modern world is out of the scope of what is intended. This verse is not about God having plans for individuals, nor micromanaging the lives of everyone on Earth.

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