“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.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11-13
This passage of Scripture has grown enormously in popularity over the last few years. However, though oft quoted, many are unaware of the context in which God spoke these words through His prophet Jeremiah.
Specifically, these verses were part of a prophecy in which Jeremiah was telling the people of Judah that Babylon would attack them and take them away in captivity for (seventy) years.
Yes, God’s message of love and encouragement came in the middle of His message of impending judgment for their sins.
Most of us only want to think of God as a Father who brings us treats. And so we wait, we endure difficulties with the thought that the treats will be coming soon. But God is not like wishy-washy modern-day fathers, beholden/captive to junk psychology. No, God “chastens” and “scourges” His children.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” ~ Hebrews 12:6-8
His children had behaved badly for many years, despite many warnings, and it was time for them to “experience” Fatherly correction. But the correction was not without purpose, it was not born of anger. Rather, as a good father, the correction that God was about to inflict was meant to help them change from doing evil to doing good: God wanted them to become the best children they could be. That is what was meant when He said:
“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.”
The “expected end” is the ultimate plan God had designed for them. And so His correction was meant not for their hurt but for their benefit.
God still operates that way with His children today. He wants what is best for us, and will correct us (with as much chastening and scourging as necessary) whenever we go astray.
What is best for us??? What does God want for us??
The answers to those questions are found in the latter verses of our text:
“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.”
God wants His children (then and now) to become a people who:
- Call upon Him, Pray unto Him (instead of calling/praying to idols of their own making)
- Seek Him with all their hearts (instead of seeking other “loves”: lusts)
God will not tolerate idolatry: He will only accept being first through last in our lives: If God is anything to us, He must be everything to us.
And He will not tolerate adultery: Our hearts must be for Him alone: We must love him completely and find love for others through our love for Him. To love God, is to love Him completely: To seek God, is to seek Him exclusively.
All of life’s triumphs and trials are meant to shape us toward the expected end that is living in His love and walking in His will.
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” ~ Micah 6:8