Monday, September 11, 2006

Not Our Plans

Jeremiah 29:4-14 (The Message)

4This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel's God, to
all the exiles I've taken from Jerusalem to Babylon:

5"Build houses and make yourselves at home. "Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country. 6"Marry and have children. Encourage yourchildren to marry and have children so that you'll thrive in that country and not waste away. 7"Make yourselves at home there and work for the country's welfare. "Pray for Babylon's well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you." 8-9Yes. Believe it or not, this is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel's God: "Don't let all those so-called preachers and know-it-alls who are all over the place there take you in with their lies. Don't pay any attention to the fantasies they keep coming up with to please you. They're a bunch of liars preaching liesÂ?and claiming I sent them! I never sent them, believe me." God's Decree! 10-11This is God's Word on the subject: "As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before, I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out, plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 12"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 13-14"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree. "I'll turn things around for you. I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you" God's Decree! I'll bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.
I don't know why I hadn't really noticed it before. This passage is famous for the lines about how God has plans to prosper us. It's good news indeed. But it's not the news the people in the story were longing for. They wanted to go home. They didn't want to stay and settle down. You'd think it was obvious, but I missed it.

- Peace

8 comments:

Calvin said...

Maybe the more natural translation? I have to say I really don't like The Message sometimes (not becuase I'm a Bible snob but maybe because I'm an english snob) but I definitely am for readable translations. I have New Living Translation which Ed says isn't a real Bible but it is I am pretty sure.

Dave King said...

No, just hadn't quite hit me that way before.

English snobs normally don't like The Message, it think that's by design.

- Peace

Calvin said...

=) I haven't really read this section before, frankly I'm only at Job. But anyhow, it's a good insight and it seems obvious enough once you realize it.

Richard said...

I'm beginning to realize that my reluctance to embrace "The Message" stems from reasons different from the usual. It seems that the usual criticism of "the message" has to do with its "everyday" tone - something I have no issue with whatsoever. For the record, I have noticed my fair share of english snobs who turn down their noses at such un-fancy language.

I remember that the Babylonian exile was covered in an Old Testament course I took. The professor brought our attention to this passage and emphasized how the other prophets were predicting that the exile would last about two years. Jeremiah's message was much less popular.

The false prophets argued that since Abraham and his family was much smaller than the current tribe of Judah, they would reach prosperity much more quickly than Abraham did. Apparently, the Lord thought otherwise and said that they needed to repent of their sins first.

I understand that Our Lord and John the Baptist received similar trouble when they suggested that the Pharisees needed to repent of their sins.

Does it really take 40 years in the desert or 70 years in exile to repent of one's sins? If so, this speaks to God's enormous patience as well.

Michael said...

The bit "Pray for Babylon's well-being" must have met with a bad response. A bit like Jesus' "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:27-31)

Dave King said...

Mike: I also think it told them that God was there with them, there's no point in praying for Babylon's welfare if God is not there. You're right of course, it's very much a love you're enemies type of thing.

- Peace

Richard said...

Frequent references to Nebuchadnezzar (can't remember which book) as "God's servant" must have provoked quite a reaction back in the day. Also reminds me of Jesus making frequent references to foreigners as heroes in the Law and the Prophets and the pharisees wanting to stone him for it.

One might even go so far as to wonder if Our Lord deliberately angers us (parable of the workers in the vineyard all getting paid the same still evokes the angry passions after thousands of years) to shake us from our complacency.

Richard said...

I wonder if it has more to do with context and less to do with translation. What I'm suggesting is that because you start the quote at verse 4, you get the full flavor - but if my memory serves correctly, this passage is often quoted starting at verse 11 which makes it harder to see the full picture.

I know I've appreciated how your hyperlinks to scripture link to a chapter and you put the verse outside the href tag. As time goes on, I find the series-of-chapter-and-verse-references style of education increasingly annoying. I'd rather 3 references to an entire chapter than 12 references to a stand alone verse.

Some of my long standing pet peeves:
Ephesians 5:22 without 5:21 or 5:25
Romans 6:22 without 6:23
Ephesians 2:8-9 without Eph 2:10
John 3:16 without John 3:14-15