‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’
Jeremiah 29:11, NLT
As I write, general election campaigning is well under way. Plans for the future are being outlined. Promises are being made. Every party bidding for our votes has issued their manifesto, a vision of the future offered to us should we elect them.
Jeremiah 29:11 contains a vision of hope for the future given by God to the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah brought God’s word of judgement to the northern kingdom of Judah, warning that the nation would fall to Babylon because they had turned away from God. Jeremiah continued to bring God’s word to God’s people during their exile, telling them that Jerusalem, which had been left standing by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, would be utterly destroyed.
Given Jeremiah’s emphasis on God’s judgement, God’s vision of hope for the future in chapter 29 is remarkable. To a people who have been conquered and exiled from their land because of their disobedience to God, God speaks words of life and of hope. In chapters 29-33 of the book, Jeremiah gives a compelling vision of hope for the future. God promises to restore Judah physically – bringing them back to their land, rebuilding their city, and blessing them with prosperity. But these blessings will only occur because God has spiritually restored and transformed Judah. For alongside the promises to, “do all the good things that I have promised” (v10) and to, “bring you home again” (v10) come the great promises that God, “will listen when you pray” (v12) and, “will be found by you when you earnestly seek me” (v13).
Unlike our politicians, God has the power to ensure that his vision of hope for the future will be fulfilled. God’s word is always a new creative word, able to bring about new realities that seem beyond possibility. As we listen to the various parties outline their visions for the future of the nation, let’s ensure that we also take time to read God’s word and listen afresh to God’s compelling vision of hope for the future. God’s great vision of hope for the future of the world is a vision of physical and spiritual renewal, a new creation. God’s vision is centred on the gospel of Jesus Christ born, crucified, resurrected, ascended and returning soon to bring in the reality of God’s great vision. And having taken time to read and listen to God’s word, let’s respond by seeking to live out this gospel and take it to a world so desperately in need of God’s vision of hope for the future, a future made possible through Jesus Christ.
Head of Bible Engagement