GOD HAS A PLAN OF EVERY CHILD OF HIS
Verse 11 says, “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.”
At the time that Jeremiah wrote these inspired Words, Israel was in captivity in Babylon. Verse ten of this chapter proves this: “For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” God had set a limit on the time of Israel’s chastening. After seventy years they would return to the land again. So the circumstances at the time that Jeremiah said this, said something else. The Jews might have said, “If God has a plan for our lives, if He is going to do something with us, then why are we and our brethren in captivity? How do we reconcile circumstances with what you are saying, Jeremiah?”
It was going to take seventy years for the truth of this verse to make sense. A lot of the Jews who knew and heard Jeremiah would be dead when their brethren were brought back into the land. What good would the truth of this verse be to them? The answer of course is that it would give them hope in the midst of their present circumstances. It would tell them that this will not last forever. It would tell them that things are going to be better for their children. It would tell them, that as bad as things seen now, this is a part of God’s plan and it will all fit together in the end.
Let’s look at this verse and see an application for us.
FIRST, GOD SAYS, “I DO HAVE A PLAN FOR YOU.”
This whole verse sees God in charge with a plan being worked out. It was not a plan that was easy to accept. When Israel ceased to listen to God and repent of her sins, God always allowed them to be defeated by her enemies and this brought about her repentance.
1. God forewarned Israel of His chastening: Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.”
2. God used wicked men to chasten Israel: 2 Samuel 7:14 says, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.” In other words God used the unsaved to win out over Israel and they (the unsaved) were the rod in God’s hand as He brought His people to repentance.
3. Israel had been taught this and sung of it in their Psalms: Psalm 6:1 David wrote: “O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.” We glue truth in our minds with song.
4. We always need to remember that God chastens because He loves us and this is the way He deals with His children when they do wrong: 1 Corinthians 11:32 says, “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
God had a plan and that plan was not set aside for Israel even thought they were being chastened by Him at the time.
When God saves us, He has a purpose for every life. It behooves us to find what direction God is going in our lives and cooperate. So many make decisions without prayer or consideration of God’s purpose. This could be the explanation for so many dissatisfied Christians. You ought to stand in the pulpit and look at the disturbed sad faced Christians. You ought to sit behind the pastor’s desk and counsel with Christians whose situation would not be the way it is if they were more than “new born babes.” Satan is having a hey-day with immature, anemic, Christians whose roots do not go deep enough to keep them out of trouble. The ministry of the church is described in Ephesians 4:14-15: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” I’m not making light of people who have problems. We must love them and do every thing we can to help. However, it would be better if we could strengthen them in the Word of God so that tragic moral failure would not happen.
When I was pastor, I spent my entire ministry (and it continues now) praying and seeking God’s will about every message I preached and every lesson I taught. I believe God has a message for every occasion of our meeting together. Ofttimes I counseled people who had messed up big time and most of the time they missed the message or lesson that could have saved them from the tragedy and embarrassment of their present problems. But through neglect of their spiritual lives they missed the opportunity to hear what could have helped them. God has a purpose in every life. We need to find it and cooperate with Him.
SECOND, GOD SAYS, “IT IS NOT FOR YOUR BAD BUT FOR YOUR GOOD
This is what He means when He says, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil . . .” The word “peace” is translated “shalom” and means, “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, welfare, health, prosperity.” The word “shalom” is the word of greeting in Israel. It means when one says it, he is saying, “I wish you peace, health and prosperity.” Our “hello” is no match. “Good morning or good evening” is aiming in the right direction but is still short. God is using this word to say that “I have your peace, health and prosperity” in mind. The word “evil” translates “ra` rah” and means, “bad, disagreeable, malignant, unpleasant, evil (giving pain, unhappiness, misery).” God says, “My purpose is not for the evil, bad, disagreeable, unpleasant things that are happening to you now.” Well, why were they happening? Does it mean that things are out of hand and something is happening to them that God had not planned? It does not mean that God did not intend for these things to happen. It means that God’s primary goal was not to make them suffer even though that was happening. He would use the bad miserable conditions to bring them to the place where He could give them the good. The bad was included in the plan but not the goal.
If you are going through a difficult time now, you can count on the same principle being at work in your life. God doesn’t get a kick out of your pain. He loves you and has a plan. The plan is for good and not for bad. Now on the way to the good we may have to pass through some bad times. But that is not the goal of God’s plan. The goal of God’s plan for your life is for your good. Trust Him. He will bring it to pass.
THIRD, GOD SAYS, “MY PLAN INCLUDES YOUR FUTURE.”
This is brought out in the words “to give you an expected end.” God has a future for His people. He wants us to dwell with Him forever. The words “to give” means that God is speaking of grace. The end God has in mind is not an earned reward. It is a gift of His grace. No one deserves the wonders of heaven and the glory that will be ours for eternity. God says He is going to give this to us. The word “expected” translates, “tiqvah” and means, “hope, expectation.” God not only has something for us in the future He has told us enough about it for us to be motivated by a present hope for what is to come.
The Jews had been conquered by Babylon and most had been carried away captive. It is so easy for one to read of something like this without realizing how utterly devastating it would be to lose your home and possession. Then to be totally uprooted from your land and be taken into another land as a conquered people. The hope of the future would be very dim to say the least. However, chastening is not permanent. There is always a happy end to chastening and trials. God is giving Israel hope in the midst of despair. God says through His prophet Jeremiah, “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.”
I don’t care what you are going through today. If you are God’s child, it will have a good ending. God wants you to know He loves you and that He has a glorious end planned for you. This is a sustaining and a joy giving hope in the midst of hard circumstances. Here are some things about the end that will encourage you:
1. He could come at any moment and take you out of your present circumstances; 1 Thess. 4:13-18. This is a comfort.
2. If you were to die, you would go immediately into the presence of the Lord; 2 Cor. 5:8.
3. Our final destination will be a place of no sickness, no sorrow and no dying; Rev. 21:3-4.
4. He has even promised that the present circumstance will work for your good and His glory; Rom. 8:28.
We will have trials in this life and we do not always respond well to them. But God is in charge, and He is working out a plan. He knows what He is doing and where He is headed with us. We can trust Him. He means well and will ultimately prove to us that He had our good in mind all the time.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.