I have a coffee mug and a journal with this very verse imprinted on them. These are too often taken out of context and used to teach that God wants to bless you; that he wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and happy all the time. Aside from glossing over parts of the Bible that talk about persecution and suffering, the problem with this application is not that it promises too much but that it missed God’s much bigger promise.
The great architect Daniel Burnham is reported to have said, “Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” These words are hardly surprising coming from a man famous for being one of the first to develop skyscrapers. He is right. A large, ambitious plan can inspire us and spur us on to action.
One of the Old Testament’s most commonly cited verses is Jeremiah 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.” In fact, I have a coffee mug and a journal with this very verse imprinted on them. These are too often taken out of context and used to teach that God wants to bless you; that he wants you to be healthy, wealthy, and happy all the time. Aside from glossing over parts of the Bible that talk about persecution and suffering, the problem with this application is not that it promises too much but that it missed God’s much bigger promise.
This promise made to Israel in Jeremiah 29:11 was fulfilled. They returned home from the Babylonian exile, yet when we see this passage in light of the big picture that God has a plan of salvation for the nations, we see that what God’s promise is far better than what we can dream.
As we read the pages of the Bible we discover a plan that is far greater and more inspiring than any other. God has big plans that ought to stir our blood!
1. God’s plan is older than we can imagine.
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to two men as they walked to the city of Emmaus. They were deeply engrossed in conversation, so Christ asked them what they were talking about. Astonished that he had not heard, they told him they were discussing Jesus, what he taught and did, and his crucifixion. They hoped that he would be a savior, but the fact that he was dead definitively put an end to any chance of that…yet they had heard rumors of an empty tomb and stories that Jesus had been seen alive! As they explained this to Jesus, they failed to recognize that the man they were talking about was the man they were talking to.
Jesus responded, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 23:25-26). The two men should have known better. They had the books of the Bible that predicted the sufferings of Jesus, yet they did not understand. So Jesus went back to the beginning of the Old Testament and worked his way through the Pentateuch and all the Prophets to explain that everything points to him. On every single page in the Bible God reveals his age-old plan to save sinners through Christ.
Our salvation is not something God figured out at the last minute. He didn’t wing it; he had a plan from the beginning. In fact, the Bible tells us that God’s plan existed from eternity. Paul writes, “he chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4).
If you believe in Christ for your salvation, you are not an afterthought to God. You are his beloved son or daughter, chosen to walk in newness of life. You are a part of the story of redemption; your life is woven into the tapestry of God’s plan. God had a plan to save you, and he has plans to bless you.