Hope in the Final Outcome
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 29. We are going to read today from verse 1:

Jeremiah 29

1Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon;
2(After that Jeconiah the king, and the queen, and the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the carpenters, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem;)
3By the hand of Elasah the son of Shapahan, and Geremiah the son of Hikliah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent unto Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon) saying,
4Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;
5Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;
6Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.
7And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
8For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
9For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.
10For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
14And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD, and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

We will stop our reading there and invite your attention to the truth that is presented in verse 11. Notice the words carefully:

Jeremiah 29

11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Let us read those words again so that they will be fixed in your minds, because they are fraught with meaning.

Jeremiah 29

11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

The message that we bring to you should be correlated with the message we brought to you two weeks ago. You will remember that we brought you a message concerning our year verse. We reminded you that each year we seek the mind of the Lord concerning the verse that He has for us to live by during the year. We reminded you that approximately a year ago, the Lord gave us two verses, I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10. We read paraphrase the verses:

I Chronicles 4

9And Jabez was more honourable than all the men of his generation:…
10Jabez cried unto the God of Israel, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and that thou wouldest enlarge my coast, that thy hand might be with me, that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me, vex me, irritate me, slow me up! And God granted him all that he requested.

We reported to you how the Lord graciously used those verses in our lives and in our experiences for 1963. We told you also that as we sought the mind of the Lord for a verse for 1964, it seemed that the Lord would not want us to have a new verse, but would want us to rest again upon I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10.

A Supplemental Verse

We also told you that as we sought the mind of the Lord, the Lord brought to our attention a supplemental verse that He wanted us to use along with I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10. We refer to it as a supplemental verse because, as we pointed out to you, God is not through with I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10; and yet to encourage our hearts to rest upon that verse again, He gave us the supplemental verse that I have emphasized in your hearing today.

When God gives us a verse for a year, we endeavor to learn everything that He would teach us from it, about it, in regard to it, as we meditate upon it. As we brought you several messages on I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10, during the past year, we expect to share with you some of the things that God brings to our attention in relation to this supplemental verse which we have before us today.

In order that we may understand this verse, we want to examine it with you in the light of its context, giving you the background of this particular verse of Scripture, reminding you that every verse of Scripture has one interpretation and then as many applications as is consistent with the whole teaching of the Word of God.

Background of the Passage

The background of this passage of Scripture lies in the captivity of Israel, better known as the seventy-year sojourn in the land of Babylon. According to the first verse of Jeremiah, chapter 29, Nebuchadnezzar had taken the residue of the elders, the priests and the prophets and all the people captive away from Jerusalem to Babylon.

According to verse 2, the king of Israel–that is, the northern kingdom–along with the queen and the other members of the royal household had voluntarily gone to Babylon as a sort of peace gesture to save their entire lives.

If you will notice verse 3 of chapter 29, you will see that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was yet free. He had not yet come under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar; and according to verse 3, he was sending an emissary of peace–Elasah by name–to pacify Nebuchadnezzar and to set his mind at ease about his own loyalty.

Jeremiah was yet in the land of Palestine. He was very much concerned about the captives who were in the land of Babylon. He wanted to minister to them and to give them God's message. With Elasah going to Nebuchadnezzar's land, Jeremiah saw a good opportunity to send them a letter. He mentions that letter in the first verse of chapter 29: “Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent to Babylon.” The subject matter of that letter is found in verses 4-15. We will not take our limited time to re-read those verses, but will attempt to summarize the message for you.

The Jews in Babylon were restless, and they wanted to come back home. They were interested in hearing the message that best suited their fancy. Then, as now, the Devil always has those who will be his mouthpieces, who will tickle the ears of the people, saying what they want to hear whether it is true or not.

There were certain diviners, certain prophets, in the land of Babylon who were saying to the Israelites, “Now, this captivity is only temporary. It is a streak of bad luck, so to speak, and by and by you will be able to return to the land.” The Israelites were listening to this message because it was what they wanted to hear. They were in very grave danger of bringing about their complete annihilation, for they were in constant danger of arousing the ire and the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar.

Message of Jeremiah's Letter

So Jeremiah wrote to them this letter, saying, “Don't believe the false prophets. They are not bringing you God's message. You are in the land of Babylon; it is captivity by God's appointment, and you are going to be there seventy years in spite of all that these false prophets say. Build houses, settle down, marry, raise children, make the best you can out of a bad situation, because you are there for seventy years. Pray for the peace of Babylon, for in the peace of Babylon you will find peace.”

May I digress long enough from our immediate subject to say that therein lies a lesson that all of us would do well to heed. We as believers are sojourners in this earth. Our citizenship is in Heaven. We must never forget that. But while we are on this earth, we have every right to pray–yea, every obligation to pray–for the peace of this earth, for the well-being of our country, for the well-being of our government. The well-being of our earth means our well-being in the pursuit of the things to which God has called us–the winning of men to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Back to the subject. Jeremiah said, “As you pray for the peace of Babylon, your own peace will be secure; and you will be able to await God's appointed deliverance, for God is going to deliver you. And to encourage you in that,” Jeremiah said, “I want to give you a promise.”

The Promise Stated

That promise is the verse that we are thinking about today: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” That is the interpretation of the verse; the application shall be forthcoming as we meditate upon it, claiming it as a supplemental promise from the Word of God for our lives.

As I challenged you to claim the verses, I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10, and two weeks ago challenged you to reclaim them for your own experiences for 1964, I would encourage you with this supplemental promise today, believing that you have every right to claim it and to make it your own personal property and your own personal possession. The Word of God tells us that the promises in the Word of God–over 50,000 of them–are given to us that we might be partakers of the divine nature.

Purpose of the Promise

I would like for you to think with me about the purpose of this promise, for every promise has a purpose. God does not give us promises in the Word of God to keep as so many jewels in a jewel box, to look at every now and then and admire their beauty. God gives us promises that we might claim them, that we might rest upon them, that we might make them our very own.

The purpose of this promise is found in the last statement of verse 11, where we read: “To give you an expected end.” “I am giving you this promise,” God said, “to give you an expected end.” I like the way the Amplified version of the Old Testament expresses this phrase: “To give you hope in your final outcome.”

“Now this thing in which you are,” God said to these Israelites, “will come to an end by and by. This place in which you are, you are in by divine appointment. It may be rather trying; it may be rather difficult. Your faith may waver. The circumstances may be such that you will wonder if everything is going to turn out all right. I want to give you some hope; I want to give you hope in regard to the final outcome, so I am giving you this promise.” That is the purpose of every promise that we claim in the Word, because regardless of how many promises God may give us, and regardless of how wonderful they may be, we may have to walk through the valley, we may have to go through the fire, we may have to go through the waters and claim the promise by faith.

Provisions of the Promise

God gives us hope for the final outcome. How does this promise give us hope for the final outcome? How does this promise give us an expected end? It does so by means of the provisions which it contains. I would like for you to notice with me briefly the provisions of this promise, for there are a number of them.

The first provision to which I would like to call your attention is that God has a plan for you. We are going to look at this promise today not from the standpoint of the Israelites, but from our own standpoint; and I say to you that the first provision of this promise is that God has a plan for you.

Since we are claiming this as a supplemental promise for 1964, we want to say that God has a plan for us for 1964. What does that suggest to our minds? Look at verse 11 again and notice the words: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord.”

This word “thoughts” is a very interesting word. It is not a word that is related solely to things which run through your mind. It is a word, rather, that is related to a definite purpose and a definite plan. That is the reason some of the marginal renderings of this verse say, “I know the plans that I am planning for you.”

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Proverbs, chapter 20, that you may see how this word “thought” is used in a way other than in our text today.

Proverbs 20

18Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.

We are interested in the first part of the verse: “Every purpose is established by counsel.” Look at that word “purpose.” It is the very same word that is translated “thought” here in Jeremiah, chapter 29. If you think about the verse in that fashion, you will see why I say that the first provision of the verse is that God has a plan for you. The verse could read: “I know the purpose that I have in mind for you.”

I am glad today of that as God uses this verse to speak to my own heart. You receive it as you will. It tells me that God has a purpose for me in 1964, a purpose that He wants to fulfill in relation to I Chronicles, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10.

God's Plan is Specific

Turn in your Bibles, please, to Exodus, chapter 31, as I suggest to you that this is not a general purpose. There is a sense in which God has a general purpose for every one of us, and then there are certain times when God has special, specific purposes for individuals. In this chapter, God is giving instruction concerning the building of the tabernacle.

Exodus 31

2See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
3And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

Notice very carefully this verse now:

Exodus 31

4To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
5And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.

Notice in verse 4 the phrase, “cunning works.” If you have a marginal reference Bible, you probably notice that the margin has “artistic design.” Now, the word that is translated “cunning works” in Exodus, chapter 31, the word which is translated “artistic design,” is the very word that is translated “thought” in Jeremiah, chapter 29 and “purpose” in Proverbs, chapter 20. To me that is tremendous.

Do you see what God is saying here in verse 11? “I know the plan, the artistic design, the very cunningly, craftily, intrinsically made plan that I have for you.” This is not something that God is saying in a general way; it is something that God is saying in a specific way.

And so, the first provision of the promise that encourages our hearts to expect a good end is that God has a very clever plan for us.

Related to a Process

The second thing that I would like for you to notice is that this plan is in the process of fabrication. It is not something that is going to be done in a moment; it is not something that is going to be done in a second; it is related to a process; it is in the process of fabrication. I say that to you because it is so suggested to me in verse 11: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord.”

Look at the word “think.” It is not a word that is related solely to the thoughts that we turn over in our minds. Rather, it is a word that is used in connection with this artistic design that we were talking about a moment ago. It is a word that weavers use when they talk about weaving a certain pattern. It is a word that craftsmen use when they talk about plaiting certain things together–taking a strand of one thing and a stand of another thing and plaiting it one against the other until a certain object is accomplished.

First, for a concrete illustration of that, turn, please, to the book of Judges, chapter 16, and notice an illustration that has no particular bearing on God's plan for you or for me, but which will be so striking that I trust it will stay fixed in your minds.

In this chapter, we have the story of Samson and Delilah. Samson, you will remember, was a man wholly dedicated to God; but he was out of place in some of his associations. The sign of his vow–the vow of the Nazarite–was his long hair, so his hair began to be the symbol of his strength. And when Delilah, in the employ of the Philistines, wanted to know where he got his strength, he played with her, telling her several different stories. One of them is the illustration of the meaning of the word at the moment. Notice, please, Judges, chapter 16, verse 13, where we read:

Judges 16

13And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.
14And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.

That is a striking illustration, but look at the word “weavest” in verse 13. “Delilah,” Samson said, “if you will weave my hair together, if you will plait my hair together, to this beam here, then I'll not have any strength.” She fell for it, and she did what he suggested. It didn't work, but the illustration has provided the meaning of the word that we seek today. Look at that word “weavest” in verse 13. In the original it is the exact word as the word “think” in Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11.

So you see why I say to you that this plan of God is in the midst of fabrication. In Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11, God said, “I know the plan that I am fabricating for you. I know the plan that I am weaving for you. It is in the process, and by and by it will be completed.” This is not an unusual thing to say in regard to a life.

If you will turn with me to the book of Isaiah, chapter 38, you will find that Hezekiah is using this very same word and the very same expression to talk about his own life. You will remember that Hezekiah had been told by God that he was going to have to leave this life, that God was going to take him out of this world. Hezekiah didn't want to go; he wanted an extension of time, and he offered to God several reasons God should grant him that extension of time. One of those is found in verse 12:

Isaiah 38

12Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd's tent:…

“Now, that is one reason, Lord, I shouldn't die right now. I'm taking down my tent before I've hardly got it put up.” And he had in mind a shepherd who had pitched a tent with the idea of a long stay to take care of his sheep. And he said, “Lord, I've barely got my tent up, and now You want me to take it down.” Then he gave the second reason:

Isaiah 38

12…I have cut off like a weaver my life:…

“Lord, if I die now, it will be just like a weaver cutting the cloth from the loom before the pattern is finished.” If you will notice the word “weaver” there, it is the noun form of this word that we are thinking about in Jeremiah, chapter 29.

And so, the provision of this promise lies in the fact that God has a plan for you and for me, and the provision of this promise lies in the fact that God has a plan which He is in the midst of fabricating at this very moment. If we keep that in mind, we will be able to see why this promise can become exceedingly precious to us.

The Power of the Promise

Let us make it very personal, and let us say as we claim this as a supplemental promise, “God is weaving a plan for me in 1964. It isn't finished, and I do not know what the outcome will be, but God knows.” Therein lies the power of the promise. I want you to think with me at the moment not only of provisions, but I want you to think with me about the power of the promise. The power of the promise lies in the first statement of verse 11:

Jeremiah 29

11I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

“I know the plan. You don't know it, but I know the plan,” God said. And the word “know” here involves the idea of “seeing clearly the finished product.” Isn't that wonderful? That is one of the most encouraging things about our relationship to the Lord. He sees the finished product and He knows what it is going to be. Have you ever looked at the underside of a weaver's work? It is just a mass of tangled threads, and that is all. Have you ever looked at the underside of a weaver's work before it was completed? All you can see are threads of different colors, some knotted and some fuzzy and all of them twisted and turned. But you look at the other side, and you see a perfect pattern complete with a perfect picture. The one who is doing the weaving has it in mind all the time. That is the thought of this phrase, “I know the plan that I am fabricating for you.”

Trust In God's Plan

Now, this very verse suggests what I have already touched upon, that you and I do not know (and that is what makes it so difficult) what God is fabricating for us. We do not know what God is planning for us. He asks us to rest upon the fact that He knows. You remember in chapter 13 of the Gospel of John how Peter in the upper room faced this issue. He could not understand what the Lord was doing, and because he could not understand, he was resentful and rebellious, and he stiffened himself to the ministrations of the Lord. And the Lord said unto him, “What I am doing, you don't know now.” Did you notice that the Lord didn't blame him for that; He just explained it to him. He said, “You don't know now, but you will know hereafter.” God does not blame us for not knowing; He just wants us to know that in many instances it is not our place to know.

Turn, please, to Psalm 92, as I remind you that David learned this lesson. We would do well to learn it today if this supplemental promise is to be to us what I trust it will be. You will notice in Psalm 92, verses 5 and 6:

Psalm 92

5O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts [there is our word again] are very deep.
6A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.

Now, a brutish man is a man who is living according to the flesh. A man who is living according to the flesh can't understand the plans of God, and a fool does not understand them. And because a fool doesn't understand them, he does a great many things that are inconsistent with God's plans.

Turn, please, to Isaiah, chapter 55, verses 8 and 9, and notice how God encourages our hearts to trust Him:

Isaiah 55

8For my thoughts [there is our word again] are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Do you hear what God is saying to you? “I'm working out a plan for you; I don't expect to you to understand how I'm working it out, because the ordinary man can't understand My plans; they are too deep for him to understand. I don't expect you to understand them because My plans are different from man's plans. The way I do things is different from the way man does things. My ways are higher. They are as different from man's ways as the heavens are higher than the earth. So don't fret; don't worry about the fact that you don't understand. You just trust Me.”

Therein lies the second suggestion concerning the power of this promise. It is that though we do not know the details of this plan, we can rest upon the fact that the Lord knows. Sometime when you have time, read chapter 23 of the book of Job and notice particularly verse 2. God was fabricating a plan in Job's life–not his whole life, mind you, just a certain period in his life. God was fabricating a plan, and all Job could see was the underside of the pattern. All that he could see was the tangled threads; he couldn't see the whole story, and he was so discouraged about it. But he didn't give up. Do you know what he said in verse 2? “He knoweth the way that I take. He knoweth the way that I take, and when I shall come through, I shall come through as fine gold.”

Expected Outcome is Good

He knows what He is planning for you, and believe me, you can depend on it that it will be all right. Therein lies the third power of the promise that I would like to leave with you. It is that regardless of how it seems to you and to me, regardless of how difficult it seems, regardless of how foolish it seems, regardless of how bad it seems, regardless–and fill in after that word “regardless” what you will–regardless of all of that, it is going to be all right! It is going to be perfect! It is going to be the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you. That is suggested to my mind if you will glance at verse 11 again:

Jeremiah 29

11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil,…

My, how it must have looked to those Israelites in the land of Babylon. Jeremiah said, “You are here by God's appointment,” and there they were, slaves in a foreign land. They could think, “Surely God has it in for us.” They could think, “Surely God is going to do something awful to us.” And Jeremiah said, “I want to give you a promise, a promise that will keep you encouraged. In the final outcome, God does not intend you evil; God intends you only good.”

Turn, please, to Psalm 40, and let David say this much better than I can say it because he has had a deep experience that I haven't had. In Psalm 40, verse 5, after much experience, David said:

Psalm 40

5Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts [there is our word again] which are to usward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

We are not always conscious that the things which happen to us are part of the plan, but David was conscious of the things which happened to him as part of the plan, and that is the reason he could say, “How wonderful, how precious.”

Turn, please, to Psalm 139 for the last verse I leave with you today. Psalm 139 discusses God's interest in you before you were even born, before you even entered this world, while you were being formed in your mother's womb. While you were in the embryonic stage in the womb of your mother, God had an interest in you. David knew that, so he said, in verse 15:

Psalm 139

15My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect [unformed]; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

When David meditated upon that, he said in verse 17:

Psalm 139

17How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

“How precious also are thy plans for me, O God,” as we rest upon Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11:

Jeremiah 29

11I know the plans that I am weaving for you, plans of peace, and not of evil, that you may have hope in the final outcome [paraphrased].

As we think about that, may we by faith say, “How precious are God's plans for me.”

Prayer

Thank You, our Father, for the encouragement of Thy Word; and we do pray that each individual heart within the sound of our voice may claim this promise and rest upon the fact that You are fabricating a plan for them. Though they may not know all the outcome, and the details may be disturbing, we pray that they may believe that it is a plan of peace and not of evil. For we pray in Jesus' name and for His sake. Amen.


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