“I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord. Mine are thoughts of peace and not of evil, giving you hope for the future.” (paraphrased)
Jeremiah writes to the exiles to assure them there is hope for the future, but not the near future. The prophet is certain their stay in the land of the Chaldeans is for a limited time only. Although God’s people were taken by Nebuchadnezzar into a far country, the prophet urges them to raise families, build houses, and trust God. If they do so, He will free them from their captivity in seventy years. Their present circumstances were inseparable from their future circumstances, for freedom depends upon obedience. Their current trials are grievous, but he urges them to have confidence in God for their eventual deliverance. Jeremiah exhorts them to expect Jehovah to fulfill His promises to them.
The term “thought” is repeated three times in this verse, affirming God is always in complete control of His faculties. God exists and is therefore is a thinking Being. His are not the metaphorical contemplations of a philosopher, for He has no vague or abstract ideas. The minds of created beings are tainted by ignorance, environment, and prejudice. Human thoughts may wander. His do not.
While it is not amazing that Jehovah thinks, it is astounding His infinite mind is always focused on His finite children. A fellow human being may perform a random act of kindness, yet the Lord consistently and deliberately blesses us. The heart of God is displayed through His actions. His thoughts are the same as His intentions. In His divine mind are “thoughts of peace” toward us. Such assurance should inspire peace rather than fear and ward off the evil, accusing voices that seek to torment Believers.
God sent His people into bondage, expecting them to believe He had a divine purpose in mind. Although their time in exile was lengthy, an explicit period was predicted. The Lord was working with their future welfare in mind, but the full term must be completed in order to accomplish His will. When these seventy years of captivity finally ended, God brought back to Jerusalem a nation purged from idolatry. They were divested of their pride in order that they may be clothed in humility at the thought of His beneficence.
The “expected end” is better translated “a future hope.” We are not aware precisely what He is thinking about us, for His innermost thoughts are known only to Himself. But when we allow God to plan for us, we always discover the final result is better than we could imagine. “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Only lack of faith and bad conduct can hinder the fulfillment of His promises.
Do not despair in your present circumstances, for the Lord’s thoughts are working to purify you. God places us in the furnace of affliction in order to refine us. He never imposes upon His children a burden too great to bear (I Cor. 10:13). As He performs His divine surgery, our Great Physician knows the pain of each incision. We must not despise His chastening, for He scourges only those He loves (Heb. 12:6). Although pain and suffering affect every Christian, only the Lord clearly sees their future benefits. He is the Alpha and Omega and knows the end from the beginning (Rev. 1:8). His purposes are always redemptive.