For I know the thoughts I have toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end – Jeremiah 29:11
Meaning of Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse most Christians like to turn to in times of trouble and distress. The meaning of this verse is that God is not promising a solution or escaping from the troubles and hardships immediately, but rather a promise of having a plan for everyone’s life, irrespective of their current situation. He promises to work through their hardships and provide them with a future and hope. The verse was given as a promise during the suffering of the Israelites and was meant to be applied to those facing hard times.
Interpretations of Jeremiah 29:11
The verse Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most quoted and well-known verses in the Bible. The following interpretations are most commonly used.
Interpretation #1 One who trusts God will be prosperous/rich
The interpretation of the verse, “For I know the thoughts I have toward you, saith the lord” is that God promises a prosperous future to anyone who puts their trust in him. It is more clear in another verse of the verse, ‘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.’ God wants his people to know that wealth and richness are bestowed to His followers or believers by Him. The meaning of the phrase “to give you an expected end” gives additional reassurance and hope to Christians about a future of wealth and success. One can only think of richness in material wealth and future settlement like career, home, and investments.
Interpretation #2 The verse is meant to be a personal promise
Many preachers and churches teach the readers and believers to apply this verse personally since the author has used the second person “you” multiple times. It implies that the verse is meant to be claimed and confessed by each person during prayers and when they are in doubt. Hence, it is not meant to be a promise for a group, community or family. So, a person who believes in God can claim the promise individually. The meaning of the verse, “For I know the thoughts I have toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” is that the verse is meant to be a personal promise.
Interpretation #3 One should do nothing but wait for God’s plan to work
The interpretation of the verse, “For I know the thoughts I have toward you, saith the Lord” is that God doesn’t want his children to do anything but wait for God’s “expected end”. If humans take things into their own hands, they might end up in trouble, as seen throughout the Bible during Israel’s war with other nations. Also, as God is called The Father in the Bible, he wants them to wait on him like any parent. He doesn’t want them to take chances and get deceived or betrayed, hence wants them to be patient for a good life and do nothing meanwhile.
Interpretation #4 Earthly future is always certain with God
When one places their trust in God, they can be assured that their life on earth won’t have hard times or any issues like sickness, unemployment, divorce, sadness, unexpected death, etc. The reader, in this interpretation, strongly believes in this verse and also chooses to stay away from the community where it applies for spiritual strength and struggle. This is because God promises peace and a good end in verse. So, the meaning of the verse, “For I know the thoughts I have toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” is that during their earthly life as God will take of everything, including food and career.
Interpretation #5 God promises hope amidst challenging times
The final interpretation of the verse, “For I know the thoughts I have toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” is that God wants to give hope and promise of good future to his children and deliver them from bad times. God may not provide an escape in every situation but give them a way out. The person may find another person or a solution to get themselves out. God also mentions that he has only good plans for his children and not evil. In this version, the reader understands that bad thing are not from God as He doesn’t have any intention of causing any harm to his children. Through this verse, God’s sole intention is to assure his children of a secure and happy future if they persevere. He doesn’t want them to feel hopeless and disheartened because of their current challenging times.
Historical background of Jeremiah 29:11
The book of Jeremiah is written by Jeremiah, the prophet. He spoke the words to Jews who were living under the authority of the Egyptians and then the Babylonian empire. They were carried into exile from their homeland Jerusalem to Babylon. The previous chapter, 28th, is about Jeremiah telling people that they were going to stay in Babylon for the next 70 years. This came as a shock to people, and Jeremiah then gave them a promise of Jeremiah 29:11.
Literary Devices of Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise by God to his people and comes with deep sentiment and meaning. The verse has few thought-provoking literary devices. Here are some examples.
Theme – The verse Jeremiah 29:11 has powerful themes that include wisdom, welfare, hope, and assurance for the future.
Alliteration – There is good use of alliteration in Jeremiah 29:11. For example the sound of /Th/ as θ (thoughts and think) and /th/ as ð (the and that) in ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you’.
Assonance – There is also a good example of assonance in verse. For example, the sound of /e/ ‘and not of evil, to give you an expected end’.
Extended Metaphor – The entire verse of Jeremiah 29:11 is an extended metaphor for assurance offered by God to His children
Anaphora – There is a repetition of ‘I’ and ‘thoughts’ and ‘think’, which is the same word in different parts of speech. However, the NIV version is a perfect example of anaphora. For example, the repetition of ‘I’ and ‘plan’, ‘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.’