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Greg explains how we should never read just one Bible verse to understand it's true meaning and purpose. We need to read the context.
Posted by Gregory Koukl on September 05, 2016 at 03:00 AM in :Greg Koukl, Theology | Permalink
I appreciate Greg bringing up this matter up for review, giving his background of understanding of applying a specific promise to a universal truth. He is a careful exegete, and I can respect that.
But, here years ago, Jer. 29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.")was the theme of the year used by the local Lutheran high school, and I felt it was an excellent choice, Greg Koukl notwithstanding.
I feel that there is a subtle distinction between application (true for them, true for us) and appropriation (true for them, works for us). Greg is correct in asserting the importance of historical context, but there is also the matter of the eternal truth. Take the promise of Jesus given in John 14: 2, 3 (In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also). I personally was not in the upper room at that moment. I was not included in that first utterance as an active participant in our Lord's ministry. But I applies to me, being under the same promise. I think Greg was hinting about this point at the 3:14 mark of his soundbite, from Israel ... to God ... back to us."
Yes, we must recognize the historic setting. Judah was on the verge of historic oblivion. Nebuchadnezzar had come to remove the nation. Only a century ago, this very thing happened to the northern kingdom via the Assyrians. And they weren't coming back! God had to reassure that a positive plan was in order for His people, given seventy years of exile. Restoration was in order for those making their way back to the land of promise.
And that is what those who appropriate Jer. 29:11 (for direct application is impossible, as Greg correctly points out) are doing. They note the concept of the positive plan in times of utter despair. We don't have Nebuchadnezzar to worry over any more, but we do have crazed politicians with their notions of "plans for us." The idea of the positive plan (and negative ones as well, as Greg did point out Jer. 29: 17, 18: This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: “I will send war, famine, and disease upon them and make them like bad figs, too rotten to eat. Yes, I will pursue them with war, famine, and disease, and I will scatter them around the world. In every nation where I send them, I will make them an object of damnation, horror, contempt, and mockery).
But this is in line with the idea of blessings and curses which we find in Deut. 28. God will hold consequences for Judah who rejected Him. He will hold grace for those who repent.
Granted, I think Rom. 8:28 does the task of relating the precious promise of providential care from God far better ( And we know that God causes everything to work together* for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.) But don't minimize the grand lesson of a promise made to a down-and-out people that can be the prime example of a gracious God to all eras.
After all, remembering "They are plans for good and not for disaster" is far better than singing "When you're down and out, / Lift up your head and shout / It's gonna be a great day."
I'll take a pledge from God over a show-stopper any day.
September 05, 2016 at 07:13 AM
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