In my last post I began explaining the 7-11 Principle. I shared how Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you…”) is one of the most popular memory verses amongst Christians (with various products available for purchase as proof) but largely is not understood within its context of the Babylonian captivity. Take a look at what Jeremiah shares in the previous verses to the exiles in Babylon:
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jer. 29:4-7, NIV)
The Babylonian’s invasion of Jerusalem not only resulted in the plundering of precious resources like gold and silver, they also plundered the people. Jerusalem’s exiles were the best and brightest of the city. One can imagine that the Jewish exiles in Babylon were being pulled in two directions. The Babylonians were likely saying, “Give up on Yahweh and follow our gods. Become one of us!” But Jeremiah 29:8-10 reveals another voice the exiles were hearing:
Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD. This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.”
Jeremiah 28 records how the prophet Hananiah claimed that the LORD was going to free the exiles from under the yoke of Babylon, exactly opposite to what Jeremiah was saying the LORD was saying. If the Babylonians were saying, “Become one of us and embrace Babylon” then the false Jewish prophets were saying, “Stay true to Yahweh by resisting Babylon!” Who were the exiles to believe?
Jeremiah comes into the middle of this and offers a third way: “Stay true to Yahweh by blessing Babylon.” What? This doesn’t make sense at all! Bless our enemies? Being faithful to Yahweh is being faithful to prosper the city that we are held captive in?
This whole section of Jeremiah 29 deserves a more thorough reading within its context than I can provide here but even a surface reading reveals that verse 11 needs to be understood within the context of verses 4-10 (I know that sounds obvious but it’s amazing how often we fail to know the context of Scriptures we recite!)
This is the basis for the 7-11 Principle: You don’t get 11 until you do 7.
I’ll explain this more in Part 3 next week.