How many times do we want to get out of something prematurely? Something is hard and we just want the pain to stop…in the trials that God in His sovereignty brings upon us and thru – God knows what he is doing. We don’t. Some say that one day we will know everything God was doing during those hard times, I’m not so sure…he is God…but regardless, we can (and should) rest in the Biblical fact that God is working our sanctification (1 Thes 4:3ba) in our trials and working all things after the counsel of his will (Eph 1:11) for his good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)
In the book of Jeremiah, in chap 26-29(ish) Israel was about to go into exile in Babyon, as a result of their spiritual adultery against the God who made them a nation, gave them the rules, blessed them in the promised land. They forgot him, deserted him, served other gods – he warns them time and time again to stop…but they didn’t so…now punishment has come. God has sovereignly decided that he will use Babylon as his instrument of discipline against Israel and he is very clear and open – it will be 70 years.
Still some are not down with that plan. False prophets spring up saying that the exile will not be long, don’t worry…things won’t be as bad as Jeremiah says… of course…the people desperate for good news, believe the false prophets and are lead away by their lies. It doesn’t go well for the false prophets, when you speak against what God has laid down as his plan, he usually doesn’t react very well to that. (Jer 28:15-16)
Jeremiah 29 is a famous chapter, especially verse 29:11 which has been ripped from it’s context and used incorrectly by the prosperity health and wealth false gospel “pastors” for years now. (I don’t think Osteen has read Jer 28:15-16?)
Jeremiah starts chap 29 by writing a letter to the exiles, already in Babylon and saying basically “Remember, exile is God’s plan, stop rebelling against the plan in your heart and actions, stop listening to false prophets, settle in, get comfy, seek the welfare of the city, pray for it, – make the most of the situation – God knows what he is doing, be at peace and trust Him. As a matter of fact, after 70 years Iwill restore your nation and bring you back” [Ruel translation of 29:1-10)
In the context of all that – God lays down verse 11 “because…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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Verse 29:11 is not so much about all the blessings God wants to give us – when we follow God’s way we are not promised wealth, problem free kids, a nice car, a big house, and a tan. It is not the keys to unlocking the 99 secrets of true happiness. This verse, in its context is about the sovereignty and plan of an almighty God. Who is about to use a devastating trial for His glory and (ultimately) the peoples good — we need to trust and rest in this sovereign God in obedience and faith – not always look for a way to make the pain stop. God’s purposes don’t always look like we think they should…but hey…we AREN’T God! This is true in our own lives, that when we face our own “70 years of exile” that God is in control over the situation and has ordained it, approved it – let him work in it. See him at work and join him. Pray that he will make you more like his son Jesus in it, pray that he strengthens you in it, pray that you see Jesus more clearly. Pray for joy amidst the trials. Pray for endurance to bear it for his glory. We have Jesus – the Jewish nation didn’t have the Messiah at that time – we do! So now when we go thru stuff, we have the amazing power of the gospel of Jesus to draw upon.
It’s always about Him, not us. Heb 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and w sin which clings so closely, and x let us run y with endurance the race that is z set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, a who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising b the shame, and c is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.