How many times have you seen or heard a promise from God spoken or inserted into a meme all by itself, without the surrounding context? I know I’m guilty. In this post I want to ask a question.
Why is it that we love to claim promises God made the people of Israel, as our own, without the Biblical context? I’ll let the reader consider it and perhaps offer an answer.
Perhaps two of the most cited examples are Jeremiah 29:11 and 2 Chronicles 7:14. We’ll put each one back into its Biblical context.
“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.”
Here’s the context – Jeremiah 29:4 – 11:
4“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6Take 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. 7But 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. 8For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. 10“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.11For 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.” (emphasis mine)
In the above passages, we have God speaking to the exiles in Babylon. Through the true prophet Jeremiah, God is telling them how they should live while in captivity (vv.5 – 7), to stop listening to false prophets (vv. 8 – 11), and then promises to bring them out of captivity.
2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Here’s the context – 2 Chronicles 7:11 – 14:
11Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (emphasis mine)
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God spoke directly to Solomon after the completion of the building of the house of the LORD, telling the King that WHEN He, (God himself) stopped the rain, sent plagues of locusts, and pestilence (destructive plague) among his people, IF they would humble themselves and pray, He would bring healing.
Although there certainly are great lessons to be drawn from both of our oft-quoted (out of context) passages, God spoke to His covenant at particular moments in history.
I’m not debating whether or not today’s Christians are God’s covenant people (a frequently used explanation for claiming them for us in our time), or if the United States is God’s favored nation. That argument has been had throughout the centuries, and is still very much alive today. I’m just asking a question.
Why do we take verses out of their Biblical contexts and make them personally ours, without considering their Biblical contexts? With the above passages specifically, we have precious promises connected to some pretty ‘dire’ circumstances and warnings!
Please consider it, offer an answer, and above all “Be blessed!”.
Context, Context, Context