Day 131: Our Heavenly Father

Jeremiah 31:7-14

For Yahweh says,
“Sing with gladness for Jacob,
and shout for the chief of the nations.
Publish, praise, and say,
‘Yahweh, save your people,
the remnant of Israel!’
Behold, I will bring them from the north country,
and gather them from the uttermost parts of the earth,
along with the blind and the lame,
the woman with child and her who travails with child together.
They will return as a great company.
They will come with weeping.
I will lead them with petitions.
I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters,
in a straight way in which they won’t stumble;
for I am a father to Israel.
Ephraim is my firstborn.

“Hear Yahweh’s word, you nations,
and declare it in the distant islands. Say,
‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and keep him, as a shepherd does his flock.’
For Yahweh has ransomed Jacob,
and redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he.
They will come and sing in the height of Zion,
and will flow to the goodness of Yahweh,
to the grain, to the new wine, to the oil,
and to the young of the flock and of the herd.
Their soul will be as a watered garden.
They will not sorrow any more at all.
Then the virgin will rejoice in the dance;
the young men and the old together;
for I will turn their mourning into joy,
and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness,
and my people will be satisfied with my goodness,” says Yahweh.

Modern secular culture has to ignore many obvious human needs in order to maintain its composure and one of those things is mankind’s need for hope. From an evolutionary perspective, mankind doesn’t really have a basis for hope because they believe that mankind was produced by accident. There’s no reason to believe that mankind’s existence at the top of the food chain will remain. The same accidents that produced man could also produce something else in the future. There’s no reason to think that some other thing won’t become more fit for survival in the future. This kind of nonsense is not found in the Bible, of course. Instead, what we find are things like we read here.

The truth of the matter is that God is the Creator and His decisions are all that is required to make things happen. We have been reading about the fact that God intended to make terrible things happen to Israel because they had chosen to walk away from Him, but at the same time, He said things like this. He makes it clear to Israel that He intends to bring them back in the future. Not only will He bring them back, they are to enjoy prosperity, peace and joy. Even before He sends them into captivity, He makes this clear. This message inserts something precious into their minds. Whenever they consider the horrible situation that God forced them into, they will also have the memory that this same God will force them back into their own land and “they will not sorrow any more at all.” That’s what I call: hope technology. God wasn’t intending to simply torment His people. He intended to save them.

Not only is mankind not the product of a series of accidents, they were created by a Father. Israel is a glorious example to Gentiles like us. A father doesn’t torture His children. His intent in punishing them is to make them thrive as he removes error from their lives and sets them up for the future. What we see in this example is God saying: “I am a father to Israel.” He then goes on to explain their final end. Israel’s Father has dedicated Himself to their success and that’s exactly what they will have. As Christians we have this same Father. When Jesus taught us to pray by saying: “Our father who is in heaven…”, He said that we should start by remembering this fact. We go through a lot of problems in our lives too, but we can count on the fact that our Father is dedicated to our success just like He shows us with Israel.

Day 122: Praying for the Peace of Babylon

Jeremiah 29:1-7

Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the residue of the elders of the captivity, and to the priests, to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon, (after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths, had departed from Jerusalem), by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, (whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon). It said:

Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives whom I have caused to be carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and dwell in them. Plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and father sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there, and don’t be diminished. Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to Yahweh for it; for in its peace you will have peace.”

One thing that we get to enjoy in the Bible is the ability to read other people’s mail. This is one of those letters. This doesn’t mean that reading other people’s mail is a virtue. It’s OK to do here because it’s an “open letter” that God wanted everyone to see. In this case, it’s the letter that Jeremiah sent to the captives that had already been taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. It’s a letter that was meant to be spread around to all of them. This is the very same way that much of the New Testament was written. Many of those books are simply letters that were intended to be read by many people. Perhaps this letter was a pattern for the ones to come.

Jeremiah’s letter is actually very comforting. Not only does it give the people specific instructions from God, those instructions are that they should settle down and start building families in Babylon. He told them to go ahead and plant gardens and eat the fruit of the land. Not only were they to live in peace, God told them to seek the peace of the city. In fact, God bound the two together. Their peace would now depend on the peace of Babylon.

Right before I started writing this today, I listened to a message that stated that America is a secular government and it has become increasingly anti-Christian. In a way, America is one of the last parts of “western society” to become anti-Christian. Beside the fact that “secular government” is wrong and should never have been celebrated, what should our response be as Christians to the situation that we now find ourselves in?

Some have decided to protest. Others have become more politically active. This radio program suggested that the Gospel needed to be preached. All of these things sound good to me, but how do any of those things solve the identity problem America has. If we are secular, we can’t be “under God.” The two don’t go together because God clearly says that there should be no other gods before Him. If America is a secular nation, what should a Christian do about it? If we are to hate the world, should we fight against America? I would suggest that since God has not given us any other option, that we follow God’s word that Jeremiah gave to the captives. Let’s pray for the peace of America. That doesn’t mean that we accept secularism. Peace can’t come from secularism. It can only come from Christianity. When we pray for the peace of our nation, we are also praying for the Gospel and that America will become a nation that is under God, because without Jesus there can be no peace. When America is truly at peace, we will also be at peace.