“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11
We just considered the life of Jeremiah last Sunday. The verse quoted above is one of the most popular Confirmation verses chosen by youth. What a powerful promise, straight to the point.
It seems to me this verse also shows the salvation of God in kaleidoscopic fashion. A kaleidoscope is a cylinder with mirrors containing bits of glass and other loose objects. When you look into one end of the device, light entering from the far end creates a colorful pattern reflecting off the mirrors.
The Word of God through a prophet like Jeremiah works much like a kaleidoscope. As we look into God’s Word, the illuminating light of the Spirit helps us to see the countless patterns of God’s salvation.
One illuminated “pattern” of Jeremiah 29:11 is the historical context for Jeremiah’s message: people in exile in Babylon awaiting the completion of the seventy years of judgment and a return to the promised land. This promise aims to comfort God’s people and reveal that the larger purpose of the Exile was to lead Israel back to the LORD (see also, Deuteronomy 30:1-10).
Another pattern might have been seen by the early Christians. That this promise anticipates the coming of Christ, a plan set in motion by God long before we could imagine. The Israel of Jesus’ day was not in exile, but was nonetheless under the sovereignty of the Roman Empire.
Another pattern is what our confirmation students and we ourselves see in this promise. We hear this Word spoken directly into our own lives, into our own futures. God is with us and for us and has a plan for our lives.
This is the kaleidoscopic salvation of God! One bold promise like Jeremiah 29:11 reflects patterns of hope and salvation for Israelites in Babylon, Christians under Roman rule, and Confirmation students stepping into an unknown future.