A Closer Look At Jeremiah 29:11

A comment Alison Stewart (@kiwibird) made on a blog entitled: Daily Bible Verse: Jeremiah 29:11-13 by Sonya Wilder (@mamawilder) got me thinking a bit about what this word translated as "prosper" really meant. I looked it up and was a bit surprised for I was familiar with that Hebrew word. Indeed I believe that the word used is probably familiar to many non-Jews and non-Christians as well. The word used is "shalom" and the definition which most of us are familiar with is "peace".

According To Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, shalom means:

completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

Strong's (7965)

Digging a bit further, I learned that according to The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew And English Lexicon the word shalom used in this particular passage means:

peace with God, especially in covenant relation

So what exactly does this verse have to do with material prosperity? As far as I can see, nothing. The "prosperity" in this verse is not talking about material wealth or prosperity. It is talking about something far more valuable.

Whenever we study the Word of God, we need to look at the context. Verses 1-3 provides a very important clue in regards to Jeremiah 29:11 which must not be overlooked.

Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to the elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. This was after King Jehoiachin,the queen mother, the court officials, the other officials of Judah, and all the craftsmen and artisans had been deported from Jerusalem. He sent the letter with Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah when they went to Babylon as King Zedekiah’s ambassadors to Nebuchadnezzar. This is what Jeremiah’s letter said:

Jeremiah 29:1-3 (NLT)

Jeremiah 29 was written after the fall of Jerusalem and during the Babylonian Captivity. The people it was written to had pretty much lost everything they had. Many, if not all of them, had lost or been separated from loved ones. Not only had they been forced from their homes; they had been carried off into a foreign land where they were slaves. These people were in bondage with no hope of deliverance. These are the people to whom Jeremiah wrote.

His message was basically this. Though everything you know and love has been destroyed, although you have even been robbed of your freedom, "shine" where you are. God says:

 Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

Jeremiah 29:5-7 (NLT)

They were in a terrible place and when that happens to us our first response is to mourn, say "poor me", focus on what is wrong, believe that God has abandoned us and become bitter. Instead, God tells them to accept that this is where they are presently. They can't curl up in a corner and die. This is where they "live" now and they need to make the best of it. God even tells them to pray for the city of their enemies! eek.gif

Then God says:

You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 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. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

Jeremiah 29:10-14 (NLT)

Do you realize that seventy years would pass before the captives would return home and most of the people living when these words were first read would never see their homeland again?

This passage is not about getting rich, accumulating "stuff" or gaining human power and prestige. It is telling us that though we might be enduring terrible things in this moment, we must remember that it is not forever. God has not abandoned us and He has a purpose for us being right where we are. Instead of complaining and rebelling we must accept that this is the path God has chosen for us to walk at this moment and continue to let our light shine right where we are. This passage is about clinging to God's promises and trusting in God regardless of our circumstances. It is about trusting God... no matter what!

Blessings!

K princess.gif

Photo Credit: scottchan/freedigitalphotos.net

Steve Hurt @serveonlyhim ·

"Peace with God" were are true riches lay.

Excellent blog on this subject and covering of the proper use and meaning of this one word in context.
SoH

Barbra Lambert @enje25 ·

Excellent blog, K :princess: ! ... I appreciate the enlightenment you've brought our way. Thank you!

[quote]According To Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, shalom means:

[center][b]completeness, soundness, welfare, peace[/b] [/center]

Strong's (7965)

Digging a bit further, I learned that according to The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew And English Lexicon the word shalom used in this particular passage means:

[center][b]peace with God, especially in covenant relation[/b] [/center][/quote]

[quote]So what exactly does this verse have to do with material prosperity? As far as I can see, nothing. The "prosperity" in this verse is not talking about material wealth or prosperity. It is talking about something far more valuable.

[center]***[/center]
This passage is not about getting rich, accumulating "stuff" or gaining human power and prestige. It is telling us that though we might be enduring terrible things in this moment, we must remember that it is not forever. God has not abandoned us and He has a purpose for us being right where we are. Instead of complaining and rebelling we must accept that this is the path God has chosen for us to walk at this moment and continue to let our light shine right where we are. This passage is about clinging to God's promises and trusting in God regardless of our circumstances. It is about trusting God... no matter what![/quote]

John Knox @watchmanjohn ·

Excellent blog - as I agree with all the above comments - well researched blog.

wmj

Thomas Mcgraw @thomasmcgraw ·

Well done good and faithful servant!
Peace to you and all of God's children,
Thomas

Mary Dodd @marydodd ·

What a good word. I always forget the context to which this verse is referring tothe Hebrews while in captivity. Sometimes our hardships are for a short time, sometimes they are longer. The key is hanging onto our Good Father and trust that HE knows what is best!