Christine Darg

Christine Darg

By Christine Darg

As Charles Spurgeon the great preacher said, we must live in the pages of the Bible. Many verses and chapters are some of my favourite “addresses.”

Let’s look at Jeremiah 29: 11, a verse that many of us love, and we often send this verse to others as a word of encouragement:

“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.”

And because the word of God is living, Jeremiah 29:11 continues to inspire us whenever we need consolation. . . but did you know that this verse was actually addressed first to the Jewish people, when they were captives in Babylon? That’s the context. God has a future and a hope and an expected end for the Jewish people and for Israel. God hasn’t abandoned or rejected Israel, as the Apostle Paul carefully teaches us in the New Testament. God is still at this very moment working out his purposes so that all of Israel will have a future and a hope.

What is the expected end that God has for us and for Israel?

God is not willing that any of us should perish and be destroyed. In fact, 2 Peter 3 instructs us,  “Beloved, don’t be ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

The Apostle Peter said, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but he’s longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Theologians explain that our innate sin nature, the nature we’re all born with into this world, is the reason that people are suspicious of God, and people wrongly assume that God’s thoughts and intentions aren’t good towards us; but notice that God defends his reputation in Jeremiah 29: 11. He says, to the contrary, I’m not thinking evil plans to destroy you—my thoughts are higher than your thoughts—I’m thinking of ways to give you an expected end, a future full of hope and promise.

Pessimists look around at all the calamities and natural disasters in this fallen world, and then they become suspicious of God and tend to anticipate evil from his hand rather than blessings. However, for the born-again believer, our Bible attitude should be one of hope and expectation that doesn’t anticipate and welcome evil. In fact, we’re not even supposed to be concerned about tomorrow.

The tenor of Scripture is one of anticipating hope, blessings and destiny. God says, “Come to me, seek my face, and I’ll pour out My Spirit upon you. Come to Me, pray, humble yourself, turn from your wicked ways, I will forgive your sins, I will abundantly pardon you and I will call you my sons and daughters, the children of God. Come let us reason together, though your sins are as scarlet, I will make them whiter than snow. Turn to me, why should you die?” God says all of these things. He says, “I don’t desire the death of sinners, but rather that they should turn to Me and live.” In fact, the Bible teaches from Genesis to Revelation that God’s thoughts towards us are thoughts of peace and not of evil.

This is our expected end—to live in peace and harmony in the family of God with all of our sins forgiven by the Atonement that was accomplished by our Messiah Savior.

And to the homesick Jews who were in Babylon to whom Jeremiah 29:11 was originally addressed, their expected end was to return to their beloved homeland and the restoration of their temple. Their hope was fulfilled.

Now in our days at the end of the Times of the gentiles, the future is the same, but even better for the Hebrews of the end times. God says in Jeremiah 29: 11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, of shalom, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” In Hebrew the word hope is tikvah and that word became the name of Israel’s national anthem– HaTikvah,  “The Hope.”

The anthem says, “Our hope is not yet lost, the hope two thousand years old, to be a free nation in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.” The lyrics were adapted from a poem by a Jewish poet from eastern Europe; the poem reflected the Jewish hope of moving to the biblical Land of Israel and declaring it a sovereign Jewish nation once again.

The refrain of the poem went like this: “Our hope is not yet lost, the ancient hope, to return to the land of our fathers, the city where David encamped.” I love that!

I’ve never heard anybody mention this poem until I studied the background of Israel’s national anthem. Listen to this last, very prophetic verse of the poem on which the anthem is based– it gives me spiritual goosebumps:

“Go, my people, return in peace to your land, the balm in Gilead, your healer in Jerusalem, Your healer is God, Go my people in peace, healing is imminent.”

And to that I can only surely say prophetically, Amen! Some religious Jews have criticized HaTikvah for being watered down from the original poem, for its lack of religious emphasis compared to the poem on which it was based; one proposal was to change the line, to be a free nation, to . . . be a holy nation on our land, referring to Exodus 19:6. That verse describes God’s mandate to his people, “you shall be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

I found it infinitely interesting that Israel’s first chief rabbi, Rabbi Kook, wrote an alternative anthem entitled “HaEmunah,” meaning “The Faith,” written in the late 19th century. It places the Torah as the central component of the Jewish people’s return to Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. The translation of The Faith goes like this:

“Eternally living in our hearts, the loyal faith to return to our holy land,

the city where David settled.

There we shall receive our destiny,

which the father of many nations acquired,

There we shall serve our God

with joy, happiness and song

There we shall pilgrimage three times a year.

Torah of life is our desire,

given from heavenly mouth

forever it is our heritage

from the desert it was given.”

The Hope has become a reality in our lifetime by the grace of God, but the Jewish people are destined not only to return and to rebuild their Third Temple, they will recover the loss of all things when they were sent into exile, including The Faith in Messiah. As the Word of God says, “They were forsaken for a moment in time; but with great mercy they will be gathered again into their own land.” And then ultimately the expected end, the glorious future, for both Jews and Gentiles, will become the millennial Golden Age of Messiah’s rule from Jerusalem and from the throne of his ancestral father David.

“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.”

God sees the entire picture that we don’t see. He sees the end from the beginning. Can we console ourselves with this truth?