There is a tendency to pick small snippets of scripture to create a narrative in the church. Many pastors have a specific topic in church and quickly find verses with the keywords they are using for the message on any given Sunday. They say they are using verses so automatically they believe they are preaching the truth. Let’s start with a specific verse I used in my first blog post.
Jerimiah 29:11 (NASB):
“’For I know the plans that I have for You,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”
Your given a small snippet of a chapter when you read this verse. When you read it all by itself what conclusions do you make? You may conclude given in a message comparing it with many other verses about God’s plan for you that your life will get better, that your life will get better materially and without consequence. Let’s read further…
Jerimiah 29:12 (NASB):
“’Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.’”
Then you realize that the Lord was talking about an action for that to happen. Almost a redemptive action needs to take place for his plans to be carried out. We also don’t get what the pronoun is referring to. So, let’s read some more.
Jerimiah 29:4 (NASB):
“’Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon,’”
So, the first conclusion you made at the beginning that he is talking about you the individual believer in God become null and void. You were misled into a belief that your live will get better just from this verse. This verse many times is used to prop up the prosperity gospel without context. The people were in exile into Babylon for years. There is also a passage not so prosperous for some in the chapter.
Jerimiah 29:21 (NASB)
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah and concerning Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying to you falsely in My name, ‘Behold, I will deliver them in the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will slay them before your eyes.’”
Dag. It looks like there is a huge requirement for Israel for such a blessing given to them. I suggest you read all of chapter 29 and all the chapters in which I quote a verse in my blogs and all future blogs. Context is far important of a thing to waste when teaching scripture. We find verse like this and combine it with others to change meaning. When verses are added together they complete a narrative. For example:
1 Peter 2:21 (NASB)
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,”
This verse is then follow by Jeremiah 29:11. It then put a “but” into the word suffered. Like expanding on the narrative that things will get better even though you are suffering now. When you pick verses from the bible don’t do it to manipulate a narrative. Do it to find Truth. Second Peter chapter 2 discusses the problem of false prophets and false teachers. I will leave you with this daunting verse.
2 Peter 2:2-3 (NASB)
“Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
Feel free to leave a comment if you agree or disagree with my analysis.
I love the line, “Context is far to important of a thing to waste when teaching scripture.” We need to understand that scripture is not our words, and as soon as we open our mouth to quote it, we are held to a standard that demands we don’t make it our own by twisting it to fit our narrative. Great post Jeff.
Yes, also many times when we read scripture we want to read snippets that not only confirm our own biases but we look for things that we want to reflect our culture and leave out scripture that is at odds with it. The cultural side of my issues I hope to write about soon.