Question:

I want to ask you a question in relations to this article –http://evidenceforchristianity.org/does-god-delight-in-evil-as-it-seems-to-say-in-deuteronomy-2863/  The section of your article that says this:  God will discipline us and even bring harm on us for disobedience How would you explain that in relations to this verse:  Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)- 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.

Answer:

The fact that God has plans “to bless us and not to harm us” does not mean that he will not discipline those who rebel against him and who willfully sin against him.   God certainly wants to bless us an not to harm us, but his love sometimes demands the opposite.  In fact, let me point out the context of this passage Jeremiah 29:11.  My suggestion is, rather than read Jeremiah 29:11 out of context, which is done so often, you should read Jeremiah 29:1-16.   Here God tells his people that he has wonderful plans to bless them, but in the context, this encouragement is coming at a time when God is judging his people for rebellion.   In Jeremiah 29:4 God tells his people that they are about to go into exile because of their rebellion and idolatry.  Clearly, this does not mean that God only blesses and prospers his people.  God also disciplines and, ultimately, judges his people as well.  We need to be careful not to take passages out of context.   In fact, the passage you quote, if taken in its context, is a good example of the fact that “God will discipline us and even bring harm on us for disobedience” as stated in the article you read.  Further evidence of this is found in Isaiah 53:10. It says of Jesus that “it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer” for our sakes.  Blessings-only is not good biblical theology.

The fact is that this is exactly what happened.   Very shortly after Jeremiah wrote this prophecy, Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem, burned the temple, leveled the city and sent nearly all of Judah into a captivity which lasted for seventy years (as prophesied in Jeremiah 29:10!).  In this case, the plan to prosper and not to harm his people was delayed for seventy years during which God disciplined and even judged his people for rebellion and sin.  We should take this passage as an encouragement, but also as a dire warning.

John Oakes

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