At this point in the Old Testament, both Israel and Judah have been taken into exile, Israel to Assyria and Judah to Babylon. Jeremiah 29 provides us with the instructions that the Lord gave to Judah as they went into exile. Here’s what He says:
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
In other words, God tells them to get comfy because their going to be there for a while, 3 full generations in fact. And on the heels of these verses comes one of the most famously misquoted texts in the Bible. Jeremiah 29:11, which says:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
I say famously misquoted because so many people miss the point of this verse. It is not a verse about the specific path that God has chosen for your individual life. It is not a promise that our lives will be full of earthly wealth and prosperity. This verse is an assurance from God to His people that what He is having them do now, namely, grow their families to the 3rd generation, is essential for His overall plan of redeeming His people once and for all.
This promise from God to the newly exiled people of Judah is not something that they will see the benefit of, nor will their children or children’s children.
This promise is for the future of God’s people. They will receive the welfare of God. They have a future and a hope. This future is an eternal one, and this hope is rooted in the Gospel of Christ. This is a promise that extends to all of us through the cross. We receive the blessing of the Gospel because Jesus is from Judah and Judah obeyed God by multiplying and filling the earth. This call to get comfy was God’s plan for the people of Judah so that His Gospel might go forth into the world through His people.
So, through this passage we can, and should rejoice in the story of redemption that God has been writing since before time began, and we will receive the benefit of that story long after time has been done away with.