As we watch the dramatic changes taking place in our society over the past five years, many Christians are unsure of what their next steps should be.
Christians rights, freedoms and beliefs have been roughly shoved aside. We can’t refuse to bake a $200 wedding cake for a lesbian couple without fear of a $135,000 fine.
We are captives in our own land.
About 2,600 years ago (597 BC), the prophet Jeremiah had some advice for the Israelis who were ripped out of the comfort of their homes and marched off into captivity in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.
His advice to these Jews might be suitable today as our circumstances are somewhat similar. Though we haven’t been dragged off to a strange land with new customs and new language, there have been such rapid changes in our society we might as well have been. Even our language has changed; the word marriage no longer means the same thing it did two years ago.
In Israel, false prophets were popping up and telling the Jews their captivity would be short. One in particular, Hananiah, said they would be returning to Israel within two years (Jeremiah 28:1-4).
The result was disruptive. The Jews were hesitant about setting down roots. They were not preparing for a long-term stay.
However, Jeremiah condemned these prophecies and said the words were not true. He told the Jews that they were going to be in Babylon for a while — 70 years to be exact.
Today I think many Christians are becoming similarly distracted. With the rapidly unfolding changes in North America and the Middle East, many wonder if the Lord will soon be returning. This distraction may prevent a few of us from preparing for the future.
In his prophecy Jeremiah says two things:
Build your houses, work at your jobs, marry off your sons and daughters. Continue on with your life as you have in the past.
Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. (Jeremiah 29:6 NASV)
Then he gives this bit of curious advice.
Seek the welfare of the city
“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will have welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7 NASV)
When Jeremiah says seek the welfare of the city I am not sure he is even speaking of its spiritual condition but rather its physical well-being since he addresses the spiritual in the second part of this verse.
Are their organizations that you can be involved in that seek to better the city? They might be Christian based, but I am not sure that is even necessary. There are a number of groups that are making your city or community a better place.
Get involved. Set down roots. Be a person of influence in your city.
Then he encourages the Jews to pray for their city. Remember this city was not in Israel, it was a city in a foreign land and God wanted them to pray for it — to bless it in any way they could.
Be positive about your city, your state or province. Pray for God’s blessing upon it.
Whether Jeremiah’s advice is suitable for today I don’t know. But it sounds like the Jews were living in a time and place very similar to our own.
It was this as the backdrop, that God gave the Israelis this comforting word, that is often cited today:
11 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. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. (Jeremiah 29:11-12 NASV)
In the midst of these trials and rapid changes, God still had a plan for each and every Israelis in captivity. He does for you as well. Pray, God is listening. Discover God’s plan for your life and fulfill it.
- Featured image: New York City: Photo Wanderingtheworld (www.chrisford.com)/Foter/CC BY-NC