"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." (Jeremiah 29: 11)
Many people love to quote this verse because they believe that they can look forward to better things in their future.
While that is true, the reason why we can expect, hope for good things in our lives rests in what Jesus did for us at the Cross.
There we have our expected end, in Jesus:
"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Romans 10: 4)
Everything in Scripture is about Jesus, not about us. When we see Him, though, then we find ourselves, because we are highly favored in the Beloved Jesus, Son of God!
Now, returning to this verse, and all the verses throughout the Old Testament, we need to understand that many of the promise declared by the prophets have been fulfilled!
Yet there are so many Christians today taking the verses of the Old Testament and attributing them to themselves, as if they are markers for obedience.
I remember listening to a pair of established, respected Bible teachers sharing about their Jewish friends in Australia, and how they pray for the peace of their city and their leaders, since as Jewish people they live in exile from Israel.
Indeed, we can read the Scriptures to lead us to prayer for our leaders. Paul writes:
"1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (1 Timothy 2: 1-2)
"Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." (1 Peter 2: 17)
Yet many people read Jeremiah 29: 11 as guidance for a current circumstance, when we have the Spirit of God living in us and the peace of Christ ruling in our hearts (Colossians 3: 15)
The wonderful teachers who cited their Jewish friends' appreciation of Scripture neglect a present, yet tragic reality. To this day, many Jewish people are blinded, in that they read the Scriptures and do not see Jesus:
"And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. " (2 Corinthians 3: 13-15)
Furthermore, instead of focusing on our present circumstances, we need to realize that through what Jesus did at the Cross, we have an eternal citizenship, no matter how alienated we may feel in the world:
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" (Colossians 1: 13)
Later, Paul writes to the Colossians:
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3: 1-4)
While sitting in a Roman prison, Paul would write to the Philippians:
"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:" (Philippians 3: 20)
So, let us take another look at Jeremiah 29: 11. Instead of seeing ourselves, let us see the true nature of God our Daddy (Romans 8: 15). Even though the Israelites entered into a covenant which will bless only those who obey all the commandments, or shed blood for remission of sins, He still has in his heart the desire to reconcile perfectly with man, with His people.
We need to read every passage of Scripture to see how good God is, not to see how good we can be, or what we need to do in order to be accepted before God:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (2 Timothy 3: 16)
For instruction in righteousness, not in how to live, but that life is living in us:
"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." (Romans 8: 10)
"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)
We are in Christ today, Beloved, for John writes "Herein", not "someday".
He has also written:
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3: 2)
Behold. . .now. . .Beloved -- you are a child of God now. Why would we read ourselves, then, into the plight of the enslaved Israelites of the Babylonian captivity?
See Jesus in the Word, and then you will see yourself. Let every verse in the Old Testament reveal to you the wonders of the New Covenant, made manifest before us by the Holy Spirit.