For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Today is my son’s birthday – Leemar Dennard, although he likes to be called Lee these days. I heard him on the phone the other day tell a friend when they asked who he was talking to, “oh, this is mom and pop”. Nearly 1 year ago, Lee moved to Iowa City, nearly 800 miles from us. He knew no-one in the city, nor had a secure job lined up. He just felt it was time to do something different. This verse is for you Lee…and the rest of us.
Context is really important.
Jeremiah is writing to his Jewish brothers and sisters who were taken from Israel and brought as slaves to Babylon. We know that God would keep them away for 70 years before providing for a way back to home and Jerusalem. At this moment they were in exile and no hope could be found.
In verses 4-7, Jeremiah gives instructions for them to live in this new land as foreigners.
- They were to build homes – establish roots for stability and benefits of ownership
- Plant gardens and eat what you grow – rhythms for sustaining life and health
- Marry and have kids who marry – maintain traditions of the family institution
- increase in number – even in exile, grow in numbers, champions for life
- Seek the peace of the city – engage in justice and wellbeing for all
- Pray to the Lord – continue spiritual practices for the heart to be able to bless
- As the city prospers you prosper – Learn the principle of blessing those who have offended you and expect to ruin your life. Grow in business and financially
I believe this is the template for Christians, who are born again to a new kingdom, to live and grow in this world. We are foreigners in this world. We are in this world, but not of it. Wherever God has placed you, you are to thrive and invite the kingdom of heaven to come to where you live and move and have your being.
With that as the background, Jeremiah tells them that God knows their future. In the middle of the chaos of being uprooted from their home, God still has good plans for them. He knows their future. He is engaged in their future. He is with them now and into their future. His commitment to them has not left for them to walk into their future.
The word “prosper” in Hebrew is Shalom. This is one of those words which does not have a word in English to do it justice. It’s more than peace. It incorporates the complete wholeness of wellbeing. These are words Strong’s uses to capture some of the context -Safe, well, happy, friendly, welfare, health, prosperity, peace. I would add walking in the FOG -Favor Of God.
So Lee, what does your future look like? Align with God’s principles of living in exile and increase (save some money). Know that God has good plans for hope in your future. He will be with you always. Happy Birthday!
May we all learn to speak blessing and life over our city, for as it prospers we also shall prosper.
Blessings Love y’all