“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future.”
We see this verse everywhere in Christian culture, preached from the pulpit at youth camps and plastered on t-shirts and letterman jackets (my letterman jacket arrays this verse across the back in all it’s splendor). Like Isaiah we must consider what is actually going on in the verse.
Judah (the southern kingdom) has sinned against God by fleeing from truly worshiping God, turning to idols, and attributing their culture and the way they worship the pagan gods to how they worship YHWH. So in response the YHWH says “I’m going to send in the Babylonians to kill many of you off and send the rest of you into exile to be slaves to Babylon.” In response to His judgement on Judah the LORD says “I know the plans I have for you and the way you are living is not it…I am going to judge you greatly for your iniquity but I my desire for you as my people is not this…my desire is to love you as my children, to comfort you and to be your God and for you to be my people, but you constantly rebel against me, shun me, despise me, turn from me to worship other gods and to treat me with contempt.” This message denotes the very passion and desire of the LORD to be your God, for Him to be your joy, for you to worship Him alone the way at He desires us to, in Spirit and in Truth.
The message is often lost in homilies and sermons minimizing “God’s plans” to who to date, what school to go to, what career path to follow, and who we’re supposed to be as if there was this one path in life we are supposed to follow and if we don’t we somehow have betrayed God by not following His design and either He leads us back to “His path” or He “creates a new path for us.” I’m sorry, but that is ridiculous! Far be it from sound doctrine to accept such foolish philosophical babble. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says “this is the will of the LORD.” If we are looking for any other passage in scripture which depicts clearly for us what God’s will is, we need look no further than scripture itself…”For this is the will of God, your sanctification (growth in holiness): that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”
How ought we interpret this passage? God’s will and desire is, has been, and always will be the holiness of his people. You want to know God’s plan for your life? Do you want to know your purpose? Do you want to know the secret to life and happiness? Here is it…Be Holy as the LORD Himself is Holy. In this assertion there is freedom, joy, purpose, and what I believe to be the true intention of Jeremiah 29:11. Call upon the LORD and He will answer you. Seek Him and you shall find Him, when you seek Him with all of your heart.