Right Context?

From Beliefnet.com, 5 Bible Verses You're Probably Using Out of Context-Learn what they really mean, by Wesley Baines. 
“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.”

Jeremiah 29:11 is a great example of a verse that was spoken to a particular people, at a particular time, but is now often taken out of context and applied to individual readers. We quote this scripture to people with terminal diseases, to people who have lost loved ones, and generally to anyone who is suffering. And what does this do? It drives people away from the God when their cancer doesn’t go away, or when they can’t get over their grief through the church alone. Setting up unrealistic expectations is one of the worst things that can be done to a new Christian, and this verse is the most misused culprit in the creation of those expectations. Let’s look at what it really means.

First, we need to know who is being spoken to. Jeremiah is writing to the Israelites, promising a specific end to their Babylonian exile. He says that “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place,” in Jeremiah 29:10, just one verse prior. His aforementioned plans are, specifically, for the exiled Israelites. It is also important to keep in mind that, looking at the context of the Bible as a whole, when God says that He wishes to prosper us, that generally means in a spiritual sense—this is the ultimate form of prosperity.

While this verse, again, doesn’t guarantee our personal, material prosperity, we can see the character of God in it.  He cares for us, and has the big picture in mind. No matter the situation, He can bring us back to His presence. This verse is an example of God’s character rather than a general promise to all Christians, and we should quote it as such.

Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/5-bible-verses-youre-probably-using-out-of-context.aspx?p=5#c6813umPPF34GcJd.99

2 comments (Add your own)

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