Perhaps one of the most quoted verses in modern day evangelicalism is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” It’s often quoted by those in the pulpits and the pews alike to say – God has a plan for your life; walk in it; it’s a good plan. It may be found in a picture frame in someone’s home or on a professional athlete’s shoes. It might be sent from one person to another via text or shared on Facebook time after time for encouragement. But while the verse is often shared, the context is often left behind, making it probably one of the most misinterpreted passages of Scripture.
Was the breach irreparable? Was the relationship irreconcilable? Had Israel, to use language from chapter three, backslid so far past the point of no return that any previous promises that God had made towards them or any future plans that God had for them were annulled? Not according to Jeremiah chapter three. Amidst the calls to repent and the promises of forthcoming judgment comes a declarative promise of future restoration. Listen to some of the promises that God made. He said:
“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,” says the Lord, “that they will say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore” (vs.16).
Giver of New Beginnings. You are only one verse into Genesis chapter nine and you hear language that is very reminiscent of Genesis chapter 1: “God blessed Noah and his sons” (9:1a; cf. 1:28a) and “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (9:1b; 1:28b). And so as to bracket the opening section of this chapter, and just in case we missed it, a similar benediction is pronounced six verses later (9:7). While God did not take another lump of clay from the ground and breathe into it the breath of life, this was nonetheless a new beginning via a re-commissioning. Just as the entirety of humanity could trace its beginning to Adam, so, too, can all humanity trace its origin back to Noah and his sons (cf. 9:19). Incredible. And it all began with a post-judgment benediction of blessing that was reminiscent of a new beginning. And New Testament Christians surely know something about new beginnings – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Such a one has entered into a New Covenant (Mt. 26:28), received new birth from above (Jn. 3:3-8), walks in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), will receive a new name (Rev. 2:17), and spend forever with the God who makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).