In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah (chapter 29) we read a fascinating vignette from one of Israel’s less-than-spectacular periods. Her sins and disregard for God are being dealt with. The majority of the brightest, best and most talented in the nation have been carted off to Babylon to serve its leadership.
Soon after their arrival in this ungodly and strange culture, some pseudo prophets claim to have a message from God. “This will all be over soon,” they prophesy. “You’ll be heading home shortly.”
But the prophet Jeremiah had the real message from God and he passed it on to them in a letter. They are told they will not be reunited with their homeland for 70 years. He instructs them to build houses, plant gardens to feed themselves. They are to settle in for the time being … marrying and raising families.
God even instructs them to pray for the peace of Babylon and for its prosperity, for if the city does well, it will be better for them also.
You might say that the false message was: Keep your faith, but keep to yourselves. Stay out in the suburbs!
The Babylonian officials wanted them in the city but to lose their faith. It interfered with their culture and could cause problems. Secularization was what they wanted.
But God wanted them in the city and with their faith and obedience to Him on display for all to see. Disobedience may have gotten them into this mess, but renewed obedience and an active interest in what went on around them could be a powerful tool for righteousness.
We do our culture little good while huddled ‘in the suburbs’ singing songs to each other and preaching to the choir. And although not of this world, we are in this world and will be until we are settled in our homeland. Our deliverance will come, but in the meantime, we need to be in the city … in the political arena … in every area of influence we can find.
This week, live by Godly principles; but live them out in the open. Let’s never hide the powerful distinctives behind closed doors.
“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you.
Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit;
not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.”
II Corinthians 3:2,3 The Message