Seek the welfare of the city

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But 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 find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

The election is over. America has decided. God has appointed a ruler as He always does to accomplish His purpose (Romans 13).

Our responsibility as Christian men, fathers and husbands is to pray for the peace and security of the nation (state) where we live. Just like the exiles in Babylon in the verse above, we are to seek the welfare of the city were we live. When America is doing well, we do well. We are exiles and strangers, just like the Jews in Babylon (1 Peter 2:11-17).

Christians are citizens of a different kingdom, a heavenly kingdom, and we are simply pilgrims here. But no matter where “here” is we are obligated to shine as lights for God (Philippians 2:15). It is a simple principle, but we need to remember that our duty is always the same, no matter who wins our presidential election.

Lets remember to talk often about these principles with our sons and daughters.

…and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Habakkuk was deeply distressed about the immoral state of his nation. He was certainly justified in these feelings. In his distress he cried out to the Lord, but the answers he received from the Lord were not comforting at first. God would deal with the sin of Judah, but he would use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to do it. “Wait a minute,” Habakkuk thinks, “how can a righteous and holy God use such a wicked and violent nation to punish His own people?” That is not the answer he was expecting…at all!

Through his conversation with God, we see the true character of Habakkuk shine as he is refined by God.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Question: How can a man rejoice in the midst of wickedness, chaos and pending doom?

Habakkuk was told by the Lord that the righteous man “shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). “Trust Me,” God is saying. Trust His nature, His motives and His promises. Know and assume that God will always do the right thing, even if it doesn’t make sense to you and me.

Regardless of what happens around me, Habakkuk had to wait quietly for the day of distress (Habakkuk 3:16). There is a value to silence. The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him (Habakkuk 2:10). You know, this time of judgment was going to come whether or not Habakkuk had the right attitude! God was going to bring punishment upon Judah by Babylon and then He would destroy Babylon.

The purposes of God will be accomplished, so let us trust that God will always do the right thing. Let us also quiet our minds knowing that God will always take care of His people. We are “sealed” and “marked,” God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). If you are a follower of God, you won’t get lost in the sauce.

So if the economy tanks and the nation crumbles (no produce, flocks and herds lost), yet we will rejoice in the Lord. The Lord and only the Lord is our strength. If my focus is on the material, then I will never develop true joy.

What Habakkuk learned long ago is what we as God’s men today must get straight in our heads. Especially now in America.

Be Careful What You Ask For

The nation of Israel as a whole was frustrated by the high taxation that existed during Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 12:4). When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took the throne. As a result of pride and bad advice, Rehoboam decided to increase the tax burden on the people. This resulted in 10 tribes rebelling under the leadership of Jeroboam, whom they named as their first king (931 BC).

They wanted change, and they were hoping for change, but the change they got was so bad that Israel never recovered. Jeroboam fundamentally transformed northern Israel. New gods. New priesthood. New days of worship. New location to worship God. I want to emphasize the point that all future kings in northern Israel kept these changes in place until their captivity by Assyria in 722 BC. They sacrificed the long-term spiritual health of the nation for temporary economic relief.

Be Careful What You Ask For!

We as a nation seem to be just as fickle as the people of Israel. One president or party is in power and we get sick of it and go to the opposite extreme: from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama.

The caution the Scriptures provide is…be careful what you ask for.

  • Do not vote with the “I’m just sick of the current crop of leaders” kind of mentality. You might put yourself in a worse situation than before!
  • Do not vote upon the emotions of the moment or a few good speeches. Because of the emotion of the moment, the Jews killed Jesus and asked for a murderer to be released instead. Look at history to see what happens when the emotions of the moment control the people.
  • Do not vote based on the temporary benefits that your favorite politician promises to give you. What is the long-term cost for those short-term goodies?
  • Have you fasted and prayed before you decided on a candidate?
  • Have you sought the counsel from God’s word before you decided on a candidate?
  • Have you considered the long-term spiritual consequences of your vote?

The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; in the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught…the wicked will return to Sheol, even all the nations who forget God (Psalms 9:15,17).