THE MESSAGE OF HOPE
By Nadia Fomin
I know the plans
which I am planning concerning you, declares the LORD, plans for
peace (shalom) and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~ Jeremiah 29:11 ~
Do you ever wonder what God is up to in your life? What do you do if you
find yourself in extremely difficult circumstances? Sometimes things that
happen to you are not part of your plan. The Jewish people have been there
and have asked the same questions. In the book of Jeremiah, after a series
of failures to change the spiritual climate in their country and after
relentless refusal to heed the warnings of God and turn to Him in faith, the
Jewish people were exiled to their enemy’s territory, Babylon. What a
tragedy! During the days of exile, the Jewish people were experiencing
The prophet Jeremiah gives a beautiful prophecy of encouragement to God’s
people who are in the midst of intense trials. He gives them a message of
hope. It is there, in this foreign land with foreign gods, feeling abandoned
and lost, that the prophet Jeremiah gives the Jewish exiles a message of
hope, the hope of a great future. The Lord envisions a beautiful future as
the ultimate purpose for His people.
|Because I know
the plans which I am planning concerning you, declares the LORD,
plans for peace (shalom) and not evil, to give you a future and
~ Jeremiah 29:11 ~
Maybe you are a mess or in a messy situation. God can take your mess and
turn it into His message. Your mess can become His message of hope and
restoration. He knows how to make it all work. He is the ultimate craftsman.
Do you believe it? Faith, which is the substance of all hope, is essential
for this message to go forth. There is always hope.
Perhaps we are not in the physical exile and far away from Babylon;
nonetheless, we can experience the reality of spiritual exile. If you belong
to the Messiah, then you live in a world hostile to God. Being His disciples
makes us not of this world, but the children of God who represent the
kingdom of God. Exile did not define Jewish people; likewise our
circumstances do not have to define us. We have an eternal destiny with God;
we serve the King of Kings and the Ruler of all nations.
God Has a Plan for You
God wants to take your broken pieces and make a masterpiece. Interesting to
note, when we are going through a time of adversity, our ability to receive
comfort and encouragement is slightly diminished. We refuse to hear the
words of hope; we want to have our problems solved now. We get caught up in
the moment and lose sight of the big picture. God sees the transformation
process that will ultimately be completed in eternity, and the end result
will be stunning. C.S. Lewis grappled with similar thoughts as he wrote in
his book, The Problem of Pain. He wrote this:
|“We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art,
something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not
be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against
what I have called the 'intolerable compliment.' Over a sketch made idly to
amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let
it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great
picture of his life - the work which he loves, though in a different fashion,
as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child - he will take endless
trouble - and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if
it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and
scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a
thumbnail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is
natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less
arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.”
We can become obsessed with our problems and consumed by
our pain, we want to make our lives work above all else; and at times, we
even equate the love of God to the size of our blessings. It is exactly when
things are uncertain that God clearly says through the prophet Jeremiah,
I know the plans which
I am planning for you. The knowledge, conveyed by this verb, is not an
abstract concept; rather, it is something, which the subject is aware of
without question. God "knows" in the sense of having information or facts
about reality ahead of the actual occurrence. He is aware of the way things
are and are going to be. God has great loving concern and uses His knowledge
for our good. When we humble ourselves before the Lord and listen to Him, we
will experience a deeper revelation of who He is and what He desires, and
testify back by acknowledging Him in all our ways.
|Trust in the
LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own
understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will
make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 ~
God told Jewish exiles to make the most of their difficult
circumstances. In the midst of the severest trial imaginable, after they had
lost everything and been deported to a foreign land, they needed to be a
strong testimony for the Lord and acknowledge Him in every way. If you are
in the midst of struggles, be assured of the promise that God has a plan.
You are on His mind, He is thinking about you. Let’s take a closer look at
Jeremiah 29:11, I know the plans, which I am planning for you. The word plan is
khashav in Hebrew; and it means to regard, to invent, to think, and to
consider. It primarily denotes "to think," which then results in a
corresponding action. A person makes plans with the intent of carrying them
out, or he regards something in a certain way, which then affects his
actions toward that thing. God is fully aware of your difficulties and is in
the process of creating a plan of action for your good. In other words, when
we find ourselves in adverse circumstances over which we have no control, we
should wait on the Lord, trust his Word, and be patient.
God Is Your Personal Redeemer
Furthermore, it's stated in Jeremiah 29:11,
declares the LORD. Here we see
that the personal name of the living God, YHWH (Yahweh) is used, which is
found 6,823 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament). This is God's redemptive,
covenant-keeping Name, sometimes called, HaShem in Hebrew, The Name
(Leviticus. 24:11,16), as well as glorious and awesome Name in Deuteronomy
28:58. In the Scriptures, Elohim is often used in passages that speak of
God's sovereignty, while the LORD is used in passages that speak of personal
redemption. For example, Elohim gave commands to Noah, but the LORD shut the
door of the ark (Genesis 7:16).
In Jeremiah 29:11, God is the personal Redeemer; He is the one who makes a
promise, devises the plan and the One who executes His plan, personally. He
continues to give assurance that the thoughts and plans He is planning for
us are for peace, for shalom. What does word Shalom mean? In some instances,
the Hebrew word Shalom is translated as peace, welfare, safety. It is that and
there is much more. In Genesis 15:15, Abraham is told he will go to his
fathers (die) in peace and be buried at a good old age. Peace, here, refers
to finishing one's life happy and with a sense of fulfillment. It would
include contentment, prosperity, and freedom from oppression by others and a
sense of completion.
The LORD has provided for all people to have peace and restored harmony with
Him through Messiah bearing our punishment (Isaiah 53:5); and in the future,
He will establish His kingdom where peace will be the hallmark of His reign
on earth (Isaiah 9:7). Yeshua is our Shalom (peace), who removed walls
between Jew and Gentile, rich and poor. He is our Bridge to the throne of
grace. Yeshua the Messiah is our source of peace and grace.
|For He [Yeshua] is our
peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed
the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified
in His flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to
create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace.
~ Ephesians 2:14 ~
Shalom is used of harmony with God in which all a person's needs are met and
the person experiences wholeness. It’s beautifully summed up in the priestly
blessing for God's people:
|The LORD bless you, and keep you: The LORD make his face shine upon you,
and be gracious unto you: The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and
give you Shalom (peace).
~ Numbers 6:24
God is planning for us plans that will result in Shalom and
not in evil. When we go through trials, we often may feel like God is
against us; everything is going toward destruction. God wants to make sure
we understand that it is not so, and He is making it clear,
|the plans which I am planning
for you, declares the Lord, are plans for peace, and not for evil, to give
you a future and a hope.
~ Jeremiah 29:11 ~
The Hebrew word for evil is ra-ah, and it means disaster, evil. While
English draws a fairly sharp distinction between moral evil and physical
imperfection or calamity, the Hebrew vocabulary blends the two. Similarly,
the term can apply both to misfortunes received passively and to evil
performed actively. In many passages, the context must determine the
emphasis. The foundational concept of the word group to which ra-ah belongs
is a description of something that is the opposite of good. Indeed, it is
often used in contrast to the Hebrew word, tov, "good" in English. The term
can describe physical harm or spiritual and ethical departure from the
ideal. Sometimes, we see our trials as evil, but actually they are part of
Struggling with Purpose
Consider each aspect and meditate on the Scriptures provided and then take
time to apply them to your life.
• Trials turn you to God.
|As the deer pants for streams of water, so my
soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When
can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while
men say to me all day long, Where is your God?
Psalm 42:1-6 ~
• Trials bring God to you.
|You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.
~ Psalm 10:17 ~
• Trials motivate you to cry out to God.
|I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up
my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before
him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who
know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me.
~ Psalm 142:1-3 ~
• Trials lead to personal examination.
|Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in
me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
~ Psalm 139:23-24 ~
• Trials draw you back to God's will.
|Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
~ Psalm 119:67
• Trials draw you to God's Word.
|It was good for me to be afflicted so that
I might learn your decrees.
~ Psalm 119:71
• Trials produce a hatred of sin.
|Since Messiah suffered in his body, arm
yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his
body is done with sin.
~ 1 Peter 4:1 ~
• Trials produce a heart of humility.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under
God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
~ 1 Peter 5:6 ~
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
~ Psalm 126:5 ~
Therefore, let’s keep in mind that all the trials in our lives are His
blessings in disguise. God has a future and great destiny for each one of us
and He is using even trials to chisel us into His masterpiece. Everything
that happens to us has its purpose. As it is written,
|God has made
everything beautiful in its time. In the day of prosperity be
happy, but in the day of adversity consider. God has made the
one as well as the other.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11; 7:14 ~
I love how
Tony Evans poignantly said, “When the person is prepared for the purpose and
the purpose is prepared for the person, God creates a hook-up called
God is planning a future for you
|The plans which I am planning for you, declares the Lord, are plans for
peace, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
~ Jeremiah 29:11 ~
Finally, let’s take a deeper look at the word future. The word future in the
original language isakharit sometimes is used to denote time. Genesis 49:1
says that Jacob gathered together his sons to tell them what would happen to
them in the last days (literally, the end of days). The phrase "last days"
(or its equivalent) often has prophetic significance. In this verse, Jacob
was foretelling what would happen to his descendants both in the conquest
and settlement of Israel.
Secondly, the word akharit, is used in the Bible to denote the destiny or
conclusion of something. In Numbers 23:10, Balaam wished his end would be
like that of the righteous. In Deuteronomy 8:16, Moses explained to the
Israelites that God had humbled and tested them so that it might go well
with them in the end. God is not nearsighted, but He has the whole picture
of our destiny in view. He has a destiny prepared for you, all people who
trust in Him. In order to gain fuller understanding of the biblical meaning
of destiny or future, let’s take a look at the Greek translation of the Hebrew
Scriptures, called the Septuagint.
The Hebrew word for future, akharit, is translated into Greek mello, and
means purpose or intent. It indicates that something is about to be done
with a strong probability in the present or the future. The Greek word,
mello, became strongly deterministic in character. A strong example of this
concept is found in the book of Job.
|25. As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He
will take His stand on the earth. 26. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet
from my flesh I shall see God.
~ Job 19:25-26 ~
In the context of Jeremiah 29:11, the Scriptures communicate a message that
in spite of the present persecution and suppression that Israel was
undergoing, it was inevitable that God would one day triumph over all His
enemies and crush them.
Furthermore, this word, mello, was used in connection with the last time or
end time or the age to come, in Hebrew, Olam Haba. In the Jewish mindset, there
has always been a dualistic view of history: this age, Olam Hazeh, and
future age, Olam Haba with the future reign of the Messiah, the age to come,
when God would vindicate His people.
This concept is taught through the New Testament, showing both deterministic
aspect as well as dualistic view of the ages, and is used to amplify the
glorious future as our inescapable destiny. Although the New Testament is
not deterministic in a way that would violate an individual’s free will, the
New Covenant uses mello in a way that the degree of probability of something
happening is so great that it can be spoken of as inevitable, for example,
in Romans 8:18,
|For I consider
that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be
compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
We have a limited number of days on earth. We are here for a reason;
therefore, we are to live purposefully. Each day presents us with an
opportunity to live life well, for His glory. This life can shower us with
many blessings, but the best of all is still and always will be knowing God
and being His. I am with David, when he declares:
|The Lord is the
portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. The
lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage
is beautiful to me. You will make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there
are pleasures forever.
~ Psalm 16:5-11 ~
No matter how difficult our journey may be, or how fierce is our battle, no
matter how many mistakes you made, believe that God is making a masterpiece
out of all your broken pieces. This is our hope, our future and our eternal
destiny. It will be all worth it in the end.
The Message of Hope
© Hope of Israel and Greater
Messianic Women Community, 2016
The Message of Hope originally appeared in the
Messianic Women's Blog of November 22, 2015 at
http://www.messianicwomen.com/blog/archives/11-2015 and is republished
Natalia Fomin moved from the Ukraine
to the USA when she was 16. Although she grew up in a
believing home where her parents endured continual
persecution for their faith, nonetheless she remained an
atheist. After her parents moved their family to the USA, it
was during the difficult months of transition to live in a
new country when Natalia came to faith at the age of 17. Her
radical conversion of the soul set her life’s journey on an
intense pursuit of knowing God. Immediately God invested the
passion for evangelism in her heart, and later to disciple
and mentor women, driven by a deep love for the Word of God.
In 2004 she graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a
major in Christian Ministry, along with receiving
theological training through Ariel’s Systematic Theology
Course. She authored a book, The Promise, and
co-authored a book, Eternally Desired, with Miriam
Nadler. Presently, Natalia co-leads the Women’s Ministries
at Hope of Israel Congregation. Natalia and her husband
Peter reside in Charlotte, NC, and are blessed with three
children, Mark, Daniel and Emily.
Other devotionals by Mrs. Fomin may be
found in our Library.
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