Friday, September 28, 2012

Context and Jeremiah 29

I have a fire in me, said Jeremiah. And that fire is that I have to say things I do not want to say because it is my job to do so.

Here is a much-loved section of the writings of the prophet Jeremiah, much quoted at weddings and such, and almost always out of context. You will see why in a while. But for now, read Jeremiah 29:11-13.
"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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Jeremiah's letter to his people actually begins like this, in Jeremiah 29:4-10.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place."

In other words, you should be exiled for 70 years first, and accept your exile. Bring up two whole generations in an alien land, and treat that land as your own. Then only will you be able to receive the blessings. And if you don't accept your exile... well, here's the part after the first quote; in Jeremiah 29:15-19.
You may say, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” but this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your countrymen who did not go with you into exile— yes, this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like poor figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth and an object of cursing and horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. For they have not listened to my words,” declares the Lord, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the Lord.

In other words, if you are not an exile, then you're in serious trouble if you're hoping for the blessing.

And here ends the lesson about not taking nice quotes out of context and indiscriminately telling people they will be blessed without telling them the conditions of the specific blessing.

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1 Comments:

Blogger LoneRifle said...

See also:
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/deeper-walk/features/21141-the-most-misused-verse-in-the-bible

Thursday, June 13, 2013 9:33:00 pm  

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