Jeremiah was having a hard time – a hard enough time that his reaction would give him the nickname of “The weeping prophet.” His culture was falling apart. The faith of his nation had deteriorated, the rulers were so hostile to his speaking boldly for his God that he had been jailed, and a nation hostile to his faith was about to overrun his homeland. On top of all this God had given him a message calling for his country to repent, come back to God, and believe in His power to deliver them… but, no one was listening. Sound familiar?
Many believe that Christ-followers are being swallowed by a culture hostile to their faith; many fear the future and are angry at their non-believing neighbors, their political leaders, and the hedonistic nature of today’s environment.
What is a Christian to do? Turn anti-government rebel? Withdraw into some kind of sacred seclusion? Live with fear and worry?
God gave some specific instructions to Jeremiah to communicate to any believer who would listen. The Lord did not give a long list of suggestions. He gave two very clear commands.
Return to the solid teaching of sound spiritual leaders who shepherd God’s people according to the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word.
‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the Lord; ‘For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.’ “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:14–15
You might join with me and say, “Lord, I’ve done that! I go to a great church where Christ is honored and the Bible is taught. But today’s secular attitudes and cultural attacks on my faith persist… what else am I supposed to do?”
Here is where God gives a strange and difficult command. Jeremiah makes it clear that godly culture was going to be taken captive. Babylon was coming.
If you’re willing to admit it, we live in a society already taken captive by Babylon. We must admit that sin is the accepted nature of our “modern” lifestyles.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! Isaiah 5:20–23
I talk to Christians almost every day who are upset at the current state of our culture. They are angry at the government, even to the point of red-faced vehemence against our leaders. Is this the reaction God expects of us?
God’s second command to Jeremiah gives us the answer.
‘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
We see the same kind of command in the New Testament.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28
I’ve been thinking about God’s commands through His prophet Jeremiah and, in that spirit, I’d like to recommend your participation in the 64th annual National Day of Prayer, this Thursday, May 7th.
I’ve taken this quote from the official Day of Prayer website.
“It is an unprecedented opportunity to see the Lord’s healing and renewing power made manifest as we call on citizens to humbly come before His throne.
Our theme for 2015 is Lord, Hear Our Cry, emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men. To further highlight our theme, we’ve chosen I Kings 8:28 as our Scripture for this year:
“Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”
At this crucial time for our nation, we can do nothing more important than pray. Thank you in advance for making this spiritual discipline a personal priority and for standing with us as we encourage others to incorporate prayer into their lives. The Lord has graciously anointed our efforts, empowering them to touch and change many hearts and lives.”
It’s time all Jesus-followers get serious about bringing our cities, states, and country before the Lord. Not asking for God’s judgment, but asking for His mercy, grace, and peace.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16
It’s not too late. God is in the change business.
Think about it…