Interview with

Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Is Jeremiah 29:11 a Promise to Christians?

Pastor John, as you know, Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite passage for a lot of Christians—it’s one of the most popular verses in the Bible. And it reads like this: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Pastor John, can a Christian legitimately lay claim of an Old Testament promise like this one? Why or why not?

Yes, Christians can lay claim to this and they do it because of Christ. And here is the way I see it fitting together. That promise was spoken by God through Jeremiah, in Jeremiah 29. Explicitly, it says, “to the exiles in Babylon.” If you start reading at the beginning of the chapter, they are in Babylon. Seventy years is going to pass, but a hope and a future are coming for them. And so we Christians, we Gentiles, especially, go to it and we love it because it holds out the prospect of not destruction for us but life and hope and joy in the future.

Now the reason we can do it is because at the last supper Jesus lifted up the cup, which represented his blood and he said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” And when he said that he meant, “When I die tomorrow morning and shed my blood on behalf of my people, I am securing for them all the new covenant promises that God has made.” Everything that God meant to be fulfilled for his people Israel now is going to be fulfilled in his people of the new covenant so that not only Jews, but also Gentiles through faith in the Messiah become part of the covenant people of God so that every promise can be laid hold on by Gentiles who are in the Messiah, in Christ Jesus.

And we know that because in 2 Corinthians 1:20 Paul says, “All the promises of God are yes in Christ Jesus.” And I think that is what is behind Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us, will he not with him,” because of that sacrifice, “give us all things freely?” And that would include all the promises that God made to his covenant people. So there is that understanding of the flow of redemptive history that comes to a climax in Jesus purchasing for all those who are in him as the head of this new covenant people, the promises of the Old Testament. So I love the verse and I lay hold on it as a Johnny come lately Gentile and I believe Christ has warranted that for me.