Study Guide: Twisted Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday June 22, 2014 | Shawna Boren

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

This week in our Twisted Scripture sermon series Shawna Boren discusses with us the misuse of Jeremiah 29:11. We take a look at how the verse, when taken alone, can claim life is always good. The problem with this use of the verse is that life is not always good. Life delivers us times that bring suffering. This week we look at how this verse can be better understood.

Extended Summary:

Over the last several weeks we have been working our way through some commonly misused or misunderstood Bible verses in our sermon series entitled ‘Twisted Scripture.’ This week we turn to the Old Testament verse found in Jeremiah 29:11, which reads “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.” This verse isn’t always used incorrectly. In fact, many people choose this verse as one that they hold dear throughout life. It is often used as a blessing for those they love getting married or graduating. While this verse is used correctly in certain situations, it has also been used incorrectly at other times.

The first way this verse has been used incorrectly is when it is used to explain life in an “everything is awesome” type of way. The truth is that there are things in this world that are painful. There are times in everyone’s lives – Christian or not – when suffering happens. Even if God’s promises for his people are true and good, it does not mean that everything in life will be “awesome.” Another way this misuse is played out in people’s lives is to claim every good thing that happens in a life, no matter how small, means that person has God’s favor in their life.

The final way this verse is misused is when we take this verse as a way of explaining away all life events as being part of God’s plan. The problem with this twisted use of this Scripture is that it doesn’t take into account the context of the verse. Jeremiah was a prophet that faithfully delivered God’s message to the Jews regardless how difficult the message was. During this time, God had used Jeremiah as a prophet to deliver a message of judgment upon the people of Israel while they were in exile. Israel was given the message by God that loss and hurt was not the last word for them as a nation. This blessing of hope was to let them know that God was not finished with them yet.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What other questions do you have about this verse?
  2. What situations have you been in that you have heard this verse used?
  3. What similar problems in interpretation are found with the Romans 9 use of the potter/clay analogy in Jeremiah and this Scripture from Jeremiah?
  4. What would be more contextual appropriate verses to use as blessings of hope for us Kingdom people today?
  5. Was this verse one that you felt had been twisted or not and why?