Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most oft-quoted scriptures today, especially to encourage people that God has purpose for their lives. In response, some Bible nerds will point out that these words were written to people in exile from their home country, and thus we should be careful not to make a universal application today.

The truth is, however, this verse does apply to us today; yet those who suggest we will misapply this verse if we ignore the context are correct as well. This promise is a guarantee for God’s chosen people that believers today can appropriate and trust. God certainly has plans for our eternal future, but this was not an individualistic promise. To use modern concepts, God was not guaranteeing that a person will one day have their white picket fence, two kids, and a dog. Rather, this was a promise for a nation of God’s covenant people. God will bring the Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem and continue to fulfill the promises made to Jacob’s children.

God also has plans for us, the church, today, to rescue us from this present evil age and to deliver us from evil. The problem with how people treat this verse isn’t that they try to apply it, for all scripture has some current application, but that many misapply it by ignoring the original meaning of the verse. May we rejoice not simply in God’s concern for our individual goals being met, but also that God has a much bigger picture in mind to do good for an entire family washed in the blood of the Lamb.