Another Highly Misused Verse – Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong’s)

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.

The above verse, just like Phillipians 4:13, is also one of those verses that are highly misused. Many prosperity preachers have quoted this verse to mean that God has a plan to make people prosper or be rich. One of the biggest causes of this misuse, or one of the biggest things that allow for this misuse is the way the New International Version (NIV) has translated this verse. The NIV is not wrong but, it has unintentionally contributed to people misusing this verse. This is why:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

11 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.

As you can see the NIV has translated the Hebrew word “shalom” as prosper. The misusers of this verse only saw this word “prosper”, took it out of context and declared that God wants everyone to be rich. According to the Hebrew Analytical Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT), the word as used in this verse can mean either prosperity or success. As I said above, the NIV is not wrong to translate this word as prosper but, the context makes it very clear what the verse in totality means. Let us look at it.

Firstly, as a background, Jeremiah is writing to the Israelites that were already taken to Babylon. God wanted them not to believe the lies that the false prophets among them were telling them. Instead God wanted them to live as much a normal life as possible. They must build houses and marry and have children. They must pray for the welfare or peace of the Babylon nation as by their welfare or peace, they also will have peace. In verse 10 God says that when 70 years has passed, He will visit them, fulfill His promise to them and bring them back to Jerusalem.

This then brings us to verse 11 where God gives a reason for what He said in verse 10. God says, the reason why I said after 70 years I will visit you and fulfill my promise and bring you back to Jerusalem, is that I know the plans I have for you as a nation of Israel, in other words, I have not forgotten them. The plan is to give you success or to prosper you and not to harm you. In other words, God says, by sending you to Babylon, I am not intending to destroy you. On the contrary, I plan to prosper you as a nation by giving you a future and a hope. God specifies the kind of success or prosperity He is talking about. It is a future and a hope. It is not to be rich! Verse 11 does not stop after the words “not to harm you”. It actually continues to explain what kind of prosperity God is talking about. This is the verse again:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

11 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.

Can you see the last part I highlighted bold? Yes? Exactly why it is important to read verses in context. God was telling the Israelites that they should not loose hope because He is sending them to Babylon. It is not as if He as God, has forgotten His promises to them. He has not forgotten and He will give them success and prosperity but, only after the 70 years has passed. In the meantime, they should live as normal life as possible in Babylon. This is the prosperity that God is talking about, a future and a hope for the people of Israel after 70 years has passed.

This verse has therefore nothing to do with individual prosperity as claimed by the prosperity preachers. God is not promising anyone to be rich. Unlike Phillipians 4:13, the misuse of this verse is clearly very much intentional on the part of prosperity preachers, because they intentionally choose to read the first part of the verse and completely ignore the rest of the verse. With Phillipians 4:13, other verses are ignored but with this verse, the rest of the verse is ignored.

if you are one of those that misuse this verse, you need to repent right now!

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Nehemiah 8:8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage. (NLT)
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Posted in Christian Attitude and Behaviour, False Christians, Jeremiah 29, The Word of God.

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