A Gift and a Promise


A gift and a promise.

For whom are they intended?

upended bible

Article from Sydney Morning Herald 26 Feb 2019

Highlighted parts of the article:

God’s sacrifice of Jesus to express his love on Earth was the favourite Bible passage of many Christians. But that is changing, as messages of hope and prosperity on social media find greater resonance with the younger generation.

“Whereas once John 3:16 was the ‘poster boy text of the 20th century, the latest star is Jeremiah 29:11”

The passage which reads: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” has been eclipsed in the UK by the offer of hope and prosperity in Jeremiah 29:11.

It reads: “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 is also the favourite in nine other countries including Canada and Australia.

“Millennials have drastically changed how they approach the Bible’s teachings… We find that Millennials tend to share therapeutic messages – it’s far more about their own identity”

A disturbing example of the way scripture can be adopted and misapplied when context is thrown out.

A section of scripture declaring God’s sacrificial act of love for the world, that made salvation available to ALL who believe, has been pushed aside to favour a verse declaring a promise to a select and specific group of people, NOT just any individuals who choose to claim the promise.

That newly favoured text from Jeremiah is being personally appropriated by people who are not addressed in the context of that verse.

The promise “to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” is not a universal promise.
It was a promise in a prophetic context addressed to a people who had survived slaughter and destruction, who had been taken captive by an invading army, and exiled from their homeland.

It is a promise to THOSE people, that their exile would last 70 years, and then they as a people – not necessarily all individuals – would be returned to their land.

This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 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.’ (Jeremiah 29)

While that return did occur as promised, the complete fulfilment of the prophesied promise, is still to come, when Israel as a whole recognises their Messiah, and He returns to rule over the earth from Jerusalem.

The 70 year exile to Babylon referred to in Jeremiah preceded the promise being so casually adopted and misappropriated today. The promise was not made to those who hadn’t suffered significant cost.

So, what is wiser? To claim a promise not intended as an individual promise to me?

Or to focus on the importance of God’s gift to the world, a gift anyone can receive through belief, trust, faith in Jesus?

And which promise is it wiser to proclaim to the world?

2 thoughts on “A Gift and a Promise

  1. We may have reached a point of no return. I’ve seen that different emphasis used here in the United States, too, of course, and dominantly… for about fifteen years. I’d seen people like that before, but they weren’t the most recognizable Christians. They had been odd.

    The most recent encounter I’ve had, online (like where I, as you, saw the change take place), was someone who calls himself a Christian (or allows himself to be looked up to as if he’s a Christian) put down the idea of martyrs. the context in which he brought it up was somewhat understandable, but then he went so total against the concept that he was dismissing historical martyrdom as a whole. I think people forget Jesus was a martyr (or someone who died because powerful people didn’t like what he was doing). This person scoffed, saying maybe a person wasn’t like that all their life. [And, yes, Jesus didn’t die until he died.]

  2. I understand what you say about “point of no return” .
    To use a theatrical analogy, there’s not merely a change of scene, a whole new play has begun.

    In a way its almost a perverse version of “old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” – but in this case the “new” isn’t something to celebrate.

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