” 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.“
– Jeremiah 29:11 –
Commentary by Enduring Word
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord: God knew His own thoughts toward these exiled Jews in Babylon. They did not know or did not remember His thoughts toward them, so God wanted to state them in writing through Jeremiah’s letter.
God thinks about us. In Psalm 40, David pondered the thoughts of God upon His people: Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered (Psalm 40:5; see also Psalm 139:17-18).
“God’s thoughts run upon his children, the children of affliction especially, as a father’s do upon his dear children.” (Trapp)
Yet what God told the exiles through Jeremiah was even better. God does not only think of His people, His thoughts are toward them. “The Lord not only thinks of you, but towards you. His thoughts are all drifting your way.” (Spurgeon)
Furthermore, we may not know God’s thoughts but He says, I know the thoughts that I think toward you. “Brethren, when we cannot know the thoughts of the Lord because they are too high for our conception, or too deep for our understanding, yet the Lord knows them.”
Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope: The exiled Jews lived in the experience of God’s judgment upon their nation. It was easy for them to think that God was against them; that He intended evil for them. Through Jeremiah God assured them that His thoughts toward them were of peace, and that in His heart and mind He had a future and a hope for them.
This promise was made to ancient Jews under the Babylonian exile, but they express the unchanging heart of God toward His people. Indeed, these were God’s thoughts toward Israel under the Old Covenant; we should not dare to believe that He is less favorable to those who come to Him in faith, through the Messiah, in the New Covenant.
God has a future and a hope for His people even when they suffer in exile, even when they hurt under deserved discipline or judgment. It is the devil’s deception to rob God’s people of their sense of His future and a hope for them.
The future and hope was not only expressed in a return from exile. “God had a special purpose in allowing the captivity of his people into Babylon. It was to scatter synagogues and the Old Testament, in preparation for the Gospel.” (Meyer)
“Jeremiah’s words ‘hope and a future’ are literally ‘an end and a hope,’ which is a hendiadys (a figure in which a complex idea is expressed in two words linked by a coordinating conjunction) and means ‘a hopeful end.’” (Feinberg)