“‘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'” (Jeremiah 29:11).
I’ve seen this verse used to promote the prosperity gospel. There are two problems with this interpretation.
First of all, the Hebrew word translated here as “prosper” is the word Shalom – peace. It is not talking about material wealth per se, although the passage of a whole does mention that God will make provision for his people materially. But the point of the matter is that God will give his people peace if they will serve him, not wealth.
Secondly, taking this verse to mean that God will always prosper us and we will always be healthy takes it out of context. The context is that of God telling Israel they are about to go into exile. That should seem like a bad thing, and it is because the exile was punishment for turning away from God. However, for those who turn back to God and serve him, he will bless them and all that they do. Also, the point of that prosperity is for the glory of God – so that everyone will know that he is God, and will turn from their sin and worship him.
Tomorrow we will take a look at what exactly we mean when we say that God will bless and prosper us. The words are found in Scripture, but they have been greatly distorted into some sort of self-centered replacement gospel that takes the place of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.