Greetings BA Readers,
This is my last “First Word” of 2023. I thank the Lord for His blessings this year, and I thank you for your continued support.
According to Crosswalk.com, the two most searched Bible verses are John 3:16 and Jeremiah 29:11. I bet you can quote the first one, but do you know the second? It reads, “‘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’” (NIV throughout).
Both verses are about God’s plans. Their popularity reveals our human hope for a secure future beyond the instability and insecurity of the present time. Careful Bible students might warn us of taking Jeremiah 29:11 out of context. After all, it’s part of a larger letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon about how to endure in that country as strangers in a strange land until God brings them back to Jerusalem. It’s a letter of hope, reminding them that though their present is disorienting, it is also a temporary reality. Their future and God’s plan is to bring them back home.
This context makes Jeremiah 29:11 more relevant to us, not less. We, too, are exiles and strangers in a strange land, awaiting a better city to come: the New Jerusalem. Jeremiah 29 leads us naturally to John 3:16. God’s ultimate plan was to deliver us from the bondage of sin and death and bring us to His eternal kingdom through Jesus. The message of both texts is of faith, hope, and a good future, for God’s plan has always been to bring us home to Him!
We conclude our 2023 “Come and See” series, looking to this future — a wonderful and eternal day to come in our Lord Jesus Christ. It may be helpful for us to orient ourselves toward this better future as we enter what will surely be an ugly political season here in Babylon. As the world falls apart, we live confidently with the understanding that God’s plan is sure, and already underway, where His people seek His kingdom first. For we, like the “great cloud of witnesses,” are “longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).
If God is not ashamed to be called our God, then I am not ashamed to call you my brethren in the hope and future that we share in Him. Moreover, as Paul would tell us, let’s not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16), the good news of salvation for all nations. God’s good future is for all, and it begins today for all who believe. Let’s share that hope and future with this lost and fearful world. Amen!
— Jason Overman