Bringers of Peace (5)
“Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit...Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you...” Jeremiah 29.5, 8
God had revealed to Jeremiah that the people of Jerusalem would be in exile in Babylon for seventy years. This meant that many of those who were being taken into captivity would die in Babylon. Indeed, it is quite possible that included most of those exiled from Jerusalem.
When prospects are bleak, incentive to build for the future can be in short supply. Why work hard and seek to prosper if it’s all going to be taken from you anyway?
The way people view the future affects the way they live in the present. If one’s attitude toward the future is that things are only going to get worse, the bad guys are going to increase in strength, and the good guys will be reduced to a small remnant, waiting for the Lord to lift them out of their troubles into heavenly bliss – if that’s what we believe, it will have a huge effect on how we do our work, raise our children, and seek the welfare and peace of our neighbors.
Today there is no shortage of preachers and evangelists declaring just such a view of the future. Their counsel to the Church is, “There’s nothing we can do to avoid the growth and progress of evil. We just need to hang on until Jesus comes and raptures us up to heaven.”
That attitude toward our Kingdom-and-glory calling has no basis in Scripture (1 Thess. 2.12).
Not an option
The Jews in Jeremiah’s day might have been of a similar mind, but God commanded them instead to build for the future, to seek prosperity for themselves and their families, and to contribute to the social, cultural, economic, and spiritual wellbeing of the people around them.
Circling the wagons, caring only about your own needs, and hoping for the best was simply not an option.
The Scriptures teach the followers of Christ in every age to build for the future. We are to grow in the grace of our Lord (2 Pet. 3.18); take every thought captive for Jesus (2 Cor. 10.3-5); reconcile all things back to God (2 Cor. 5.17-21); stimulate one another to love and good works (Heb. 10.24); and live for God’s glory in every area of our lives (1 Cor. 10.31). The Daystar has arisen, John declared in 1 John 2.8-17, and the Light of Christ was, even in John’s day, advancing against the darkness of the sin-corrupted Roman world, bringing truth, hope, and new life wherever it went.
Daniel’s vision of the future, and ours
While exiled in Babylon, Daniel saw the Kingdom of God as a stone that would overwhelm all other kingdoms. From its beginnings in the time of the Roman Empire throughout the course of history, God’s Kingdom would grow, expand, overcome all opposition, and fill the earth with the knowledge of God and His glory (Dan. 2.44, 45; Hab. 2.14). God was giving a Kingdom to His Son, and His Son would give it to His people. They, in turn, would endure much trial and opposition, but in the end, would bring the blessings of that Kingdom to the entire world (Dan. 7.13-27).
For most Christians today, the Kingdom which Daniel saw, Jesus proclaimed and brought near, and the Spirit inaugurated on that first Christian Pentecost – that Kingdom is little more than a theological idea, or a distant hope. It is not a daily reality to be sought, seized, shared, and strengthened in every nook and cranny of our Personal Mission Fields. Christians today are trapped in their past or mired in their present, and they have little or no sense of what it means to build for the future so that righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit increase wherever they live, move, and have their being.
But God calls us always to build for the future, to lay the foundations of blessing and spiritual advance in every area of life in our own day, so that those who inherit our “houses and fields” will find them strong and fruitful in their day as well.
Beware the false prophets who counsel a defeatist, withdrawing attitude toward the future. God has plans for our future, to fill us with hope, make Himself known, and use us as His people to bless the nations of the world. We are the bringers of peace, and God has promised that we shall overcome and prevail. Let’s work toward what God has promised, not what we’ve been taught to fear.
1. Look at the vision of God’s Kingdom which Daniel saw in Daniel 2.44, 45 and Daniel 7.13-27. Compare that with what Isaiah saw in Isaiah 9.6, 7. Is this the Kingdom in which you live? Explain.
2. What does it mean to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6.33)? How is doing so a decidedly future-oriented way of life?
3. How do you expect to see the Kingdom of God coming, growing like a great mountain, in your Personal Mission Field?
Next steps – Conversation: Talk with some Christian friends about how you might encourage one another more effectively to seek the Kingdom of God.
T. M. Moore
This week’s study, Bringers of Peace, is available in a free PDF download, suitable for individual or group use. Simply click here.
Our booklet, Joy to Your World!, can help you get into a more consistent groove as a joy-bringer to the people around you. It will help you identify, map, and begin working your Personal Mission with greater fruitfulness. Order your copy by clicking here. Order two copies, and work through it with a friend. For more insights to God’s purpose in sending His people into captivity in Babylon, see our Scriptorium study on the book of Isaiah (click here for all 23 installments in the series).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.