Monday, March 26, 2012
"Luke, I am your father!"
That is one of the most famous lines from the Star Wars saga...yet it was never uttered, much like many of these movie misquotes:
People remember what they want to remember, when they want to remember it. When it comes to God, people have a tendency to misremember and misquote Him. In the same vein as misquotes are the numerous instances where people like to take the Bible out of context. One Bible verse that I really don't like because of how often well-meaning yet slightly ignorant/lazy Christians tear it out of context is Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Taken out of context, that seems like a great verse to have prayed over you. But if you take it in context of the letter that God has Jeremiah write to the exiles...it doesn't quite seem like something you want prayed over you:
1 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:
4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I CARRIED INTO EXILE from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD.
10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (excessive emphasis mine.)
God forcibly uprooted these people from their homes, carried them into captivity, and told them they would remain there for 70 years. It puts the 11th verse in a much different perspective.
The more that I hear that verse and think about in the overall context, the more I begin to become "okay" with the fact that God does stuff like that to His people. I don't like it, but God knows more than I do, so I need to trust his plan for everything.