Do you have a life verse?
My son recently graduated from high school. In Sunday School, the teacher asked the seniors their life verses and wrote them on the board. Overwhelmingly, Jeremiah 29:11 came up as the favorite. Even the gift bag I bought from LifeWay had this verse written on it.
I have to admit that this is a beautiful verse. Have you ever wondered what prompted God to tell this verse to the nation of Israel? Let’s take a look at Jeremiah 29:10-14 to see why God made this promise to His nation of chosen people.
“For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 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. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive”
Jeremiah 29:10-14 (NKJV).
Background of Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom
Israel had continued to sin against the Lord after repeated warnings from the prophets. God determined that Judah, the Southern Kingdom of Israel, would go into captivity for 70 years. You can read about these captive years in the book of Daniel. Israel, the Northern Kingdom of Israel, had already been taken captive by Assyria.
God never intended for Israel to be a divided nation, but because of the sins of Solomon, He divided the nation of Israel into two kingdoms. They were referred to as Israel and Judah or the Northern and the Southern Kingdoms. Once they were divided, the Northern Kingdom had no good kings so God sent them into captivity in 722 B.C. The Southern Kingdom had some good kings and some bad kings, but they too were forced to go into captivity in Babylon. This happened in three stages, with the temple being destroyed in 586 B.C.
Context of Jeremiah 29:11
When God spoke verses 10-14 to Jeremiah, he told them that they would go into captivity for 70 years, then he had a hope and a future for them. We must be careful when we quote popular scripture to make sure we understand the Biblical context of the verses. By context, I mean the verses above and below the verse.
New Testament Example
Many times we quote our favorite part of a verse from the New Testament, but fail to quote the condition. For example, we love this verse, “All things work together for good to those who love God” Romans 8:28 (NKJV). I have heard people who live like the devil quote this verse when something bad happens to them. Did God intend for this verse to be used by any person, under any circumstance? In order to know this, we need to read the verses above and below Romans 8:28 to understand the context of the verse.
“All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28 (NKJV).
Many people who are familiar with this verse, only quote the first part of the verse, but leave out the condition. God did not intend for this verse to be used universally by all people in every situation. This verse is conditional like most promises in the New Testament. He only intended this verse for those who are called according to His purpose. If you have only memorized the first part of this verse, you have left out the condition. Many of the promises in the Bible are conditional, so make sure you meet the condition when applying the verse to your life.
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