“Universal Shalom” – Jeremiah 29:4-19

October 6th, 2019

Jeremiah 29:4-19

“Universal Shalom”

Aux Text: Matthew 5:13-16; Rom, 12:14-21

Call to Worship: Psa 122


Service Orientation: We are to be a light on a hill or the salt of the earth to usher in God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  Even when that means praying for and working towards the shalom of our enemies.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  . . . your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. —  Matthew 6:10


Background Information:

  • Three important results of the exile–(1) a thorough purging of idolatrous rituals in worship and acceptance of monotheism, (2) the rise of synagogues as teaching institutions, and (3) a deeper longing for their Messiah. This does not mean the Jews were without error after that, but they did learn those valuable lessons.  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 241-2)
  • After 28 chapters of uprooting and overthrowing, Jeremiah finally got around to building and planting. (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 412)
  • When judgment finally arrived, something remarkable happened. Jeremiah changed his tune.  The next several chapters are filled with some of the most wonderful promises in all of Scripture.  After twenty-eight chapters of gloom and doom, Jeremiah came bearing tidings of grace and glory.  He promised that God would bring his people back from captivity (30:3).  He would love them “with an everlasting love” (31:3) and “turn their mourning into gladness” (31:13).  He would make a new covenant with them (31:31) and give them “singleness of heart and action” (32:39).  God would even “cleanse them from all the sin they have committed” (33:8).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 407)
  • The historical situation of the chapter was that in 597 B.C., some three thousand Jews had been exiled with Jehoaichin, among them a number of priests and prophets along with the royal household. In Jerusalem, Jeremiah heard that some exiled false prophets were predicting an early fall of Babylon and an early restoration of the exiles to Judah.  Jeremiah’s letters warned the exiles against this deception and urged them to wait patiently for God’s time.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 551-2)
  • It was obviously very important to ensure that all readers of the book fully recognized that for a given period of time (70 years) resistance to Babylon was tantamount to rebellion against God (cf. 27:14)! So this point remains a consistent theme of the Book of Jeremiah.  Rather surprisingly, the book as well as the prophet himself counsels a rather quietistic acceptance of the sovereign demands of the king of Babylon for the present time. The bearing this had upon the outlook of the exiles of this period and in subsequent years for Jews of the dispersion on a large scale cannot be ignored.  (R.E. Clements, Interpretation: Jeremiah, 172)
  • Several different letters are involved in this chapter: a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles (vv. 1-14); a letter concerning Jewish false prophets in Babylon to which Jeremiah replied (vv. 15-23); a letter from Shemaiah to the temple priests concerning Jeremiah, which he read (vv. 24-29); and a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles concerning Shemaiah (vv. 30-32). Correspondence like this wasn’t difficult to maintain in those days, for there were regular diplomatic missions between Jerusalem and Babylon (v. 3), and Jeremiah had friends in high places in the government.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 139)
  • This letter has been called very justly “one of the most significant documents in the OT.” (George Arthur Buttrick, Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 5, 1016-7)
  • (v. 4) J. A. Thompson suggests plausibly that it belongs to the period 595-594 B.C. when there was a measure of political unrest in Babylon that may have encouraged premature expectations of a return on the part of the deportees. (R.E. Clements, Interpretation: Jeremiah, 170)
  • (v. 11) God makes and God knows God’s plan. This fact is stressed by the grammar of Jeremiah 29:11, where the “I” is repeated in Hebrew for emphasis: “I, I know the plans I have for you.”  We do not know what the plans are, but God does.  These are God’s plans for us, not our plans for God, or even our plans for us.  God insists on his right to know and fulfill his plans, which is why the plans are so good.  They are God’s plans rather than ours.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 420)
  • (v. 11) When God says he knows the plans he has for you, it is important to understand whom he means by “you.” Christians often apply Jeremiah’s promise to themselves individually.  “Terrific!” they say.  “God knows the plans he has for me.”  This shows how self-centered Bible reading can be.  Jeremiah’s promise should not be taken individualistically.  It is not a private promise.  It is for the entire church.  The “you” in “I know the plans I have for you” refers to the whole people of God.  Before thinking about what the promise means for you, think about what it means for us.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 420)
  • (v. 11) If God knows his plans for the church, then he also knows his plans for the Christian. Although we should not take Jeremiah’s promise individualistically, we can apply it individually.  God does know his plans for each and every Christian.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 421)
  • (vss. 24ff) What Shemaiah failed to understand was God’s loving plan for the city. He did not understand that God wanted his people to love the city, not leave it.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 413)
  • Imagine the reaction when Jeremiah’s prophecy was read in the Jewish ghetto in Babylon. There God’s people were, languishing in captivity, bemoaning their fate, complaining about the crime rate and the wretched Babylonian city school system.  But God gave them the hard sell.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 411)
  • On occasion Jeremiah is enjoined by the Lord not to pray for his people because they are intransigent and for the moment irredeemable (7:16; 11:14; 14:11). This somber communication is not, of course, for Jeremiah’s private consumption; instead, this word of the Lord becomes part of his public proclamation, designed to shock and to evoke change.  The people’s time is up and the consequences of failure will be severe.  But what about the enemy?  Surely God’s people should pray for the defeat of their enemies, shouldn’t they?  Otherwise, they themselves will be overtaken.  “Not so this time,” says Jeremiah about Babylon.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 265)


The question to be answered is . . . What can we learn from God’s extraordinary instructions through Jeremiah?:


Answer: Fallen Creation does not change the Creation mandate.  God promises that Fallen Creation will be restored through repentive submission to God’s yoke.  But restoration cannot be achieved by listening to false prophets.


The Phrase for the Day is . . . Revitalize without compromise


What can we learn from God’s extraordinary instructions through Jeremiah?:

I-  Fallen Creation does not change the Creation mandate.  (Jer 29:4-7; see also: Gn 1:26-28; 2:4-25; 5:1; Ps 8; Mt 5:13-16; Rom 12:14-21; 1 Cor 7:15; Col 3:17, 23)


The Cultural Mandate or Creation Mandate is divine injunction found in Genesis 1:28, in which God (YHWH), after having created the world and all in it, ascribes to humankind the task of filling, subduing, and ruling over the earth. (Cultural Mandate, https://en.wikipedia.org)


The Cultural Mandate is rooted in man’s identity as the image of God. (Charles Lee Irons; Meredith Kline’s View of the Cultural Mandate, Lecture given at the 2015 Bahnsen Conference)


The fall into sin certainly does not alter the force of the mandate.  Yet it is clear that henceforth man is unable to fulfill it in his own power. (Jack deJong; Our Cultural Mandate, www.christianitystudylibrary.org)


What should God’s people do when their zip code places them in Satan’s precincts?  When God’s people were captives in Babylon, they might have expected God to tell them to run away.  Or revolt.  What he did instead was tell them to make themselves at home.  The gist of Jeremiah’s prophecy was that God was going to build his city in the middle of Satan’s city.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 410)


From the perspective of the NT, God’s people are both “at home” as members of the body of the risen Christ (regardless of their geographical location) and “in transit” as they live out their witness in this age (regardless of their geographical location).  The exiles in Babylon have not been ejected from their place among God’s people; rather, they have been called to reconsider their place in God’s economy in light of new temporal circumstances.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 263-4)


Jeremiah wanted them to be good witnesses to the idolatrous Babylonians, and he also wanted them to be good Jews even though separated from their temple and its services.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 139-40)


The great king has summoned each of us into his throne room.  This time, however, he is not entrusting jewels to us; rather, he is distributing property.  “Take this portion of my kingdom,” he says.  “I am making you my steward over your office, your workbench, your kitchen stove.  Put your heart into mastering this part of my world.  Get it in order; unearth its treasures; do all you can with it.  Then everyone will see what a glorious King I am.” 

     That’s why we get up every morning and go to work.  We don’t labor simply to survive–insects do that.  Our work is an honor, a privileged commission from our great King.  God has given each of us a portion of his kingdom to explore and to develop to its fullness. (Richard L. Pratt, Jr.; Designed for Dignity, 32-3)


The lesson of the Cultural Mandate is that our sense of fulfillment depends on engaging in creative, constructive work.  The ideal human existence is not eternal leisure or an endless vacation—or even a monastic retreat into prayer and meditation—but creative effort expended for the glory of God and the benefit of others.   Our calling is not just to “go to heaven” but also to cultivate the earth, not just to “save souls” but also to service God through our work.  For God himself is engaged not only in the work of salvation but also in the work of preserving and developing His creation.  When we obey the Cultural Mandate, we participate in the work of God Himself. (Nancy Percey; Total Truth as quoted by High Whelchel; What the Cultural Mandate Means for Your Work, ww.tifwe.org)


From the beginning God intended human beings to be his junior partners in the work of bringing his creation to fulfillment.   It is not in our nature to be satisfied with things as they are, to receive provision for our needs without working, to endure idleness for long, to toil in a system of uncreative regimentation, or to work in social isolation.  To recap, we are created to work as sub-creators in relationship with other people and with God, depending on God’s provision to make our work fruitful and respecting the limits given in his word and evident in his creation.  (The Word of the “Creation Mandate”; www.theologyofwork.org)


His surprising plan for the redemption of the city meant building the City of God smack-dab in the middle of the City of Man.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 411)


Exile is not the end of existence as God’s people, but the beginning of a new phase of relating to God.  The people are not to rebel against the authority of Babylon because, in effect, it is the authority of God over them for a prescribed time.  More positively, the people are to seek the prosperity of Babylon because it will affect them as well.  Most important, they are to pray for their captors.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 262)


These verses teach the importance of daily family life for the redemption of the post-Christian city.  The construction of the house, the planting of the garden, and the raising of the family all build the City of God.  The most important thing a Christian parent can do in his or her lifetime is to raise a godly family.  And nowhere is the godly family more valuable than in the city.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 412)


II-  Pray and seek shalom for the community in which you live.  If it enjoys peace and prosperity, so will you.  (Jer 29:7; see also: Story of Joseph {Gn chpts 38-50}; Bk of Daniel; Mt 5:13-16, 44; Rom 12:14-21)


God hereby commands Christians to do anything and everything to further the public good.  Seeking the peace of the city means being a good neighbor.  It means shoveling the sidewalk.  It means cleaning the street.  It means planting a tree.  It means feeding the poor.  It means volunteering at the local school.  It means greeting people at the store.  It means driving safely and helping people with car trouble.  It means shutting down immoral businesses.  It means embracing people from every ethnic background with the love of Christ.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 414)


A perfect example of God’s good plans for his people in Babylon is the prophet Daniel.  Daniel prospered in exile.  Because of his faith in God he was a star pupil in the Babylonian school system.  He not only “looked healthier and better nourished” than the pagan students, but he also had “knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning” (Dn 1:15, 17).  When Daniel was able to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, “the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him.  He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men” (2:48).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 425)


No doubt when the captives discussed their sojourn in Babylon they used words like “abandoned” or “banished” or “condemned” to describe what God had done to them.  But that is not how God saw things.  He viewed the Exile as a mission.  Literally, what he said was, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have sent you.”  Nebuchadnezzar did not take them to Babylon.  God sent them there.  The exiles were not captives–they were missionaries.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 411)


As Judeans pray for the welfare of the city, God’s people will learn that no one is only an enemy.  In the case of Babylon, their doom is sure to come, but in a radical way God has bound the fortunes of his people with their enemy.  There is something profound at work in such circumstances.  What comes with clarity in the gospel is already adumbrated in the OT.  Through prayer one can look at opponents or problems as more than someone or something to be overcome.  They can become also a means of education and sanctification, the agents through whom one finds growth in relationship with God.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 265)


The heavenly hope is reflected in the depiction of believers as already possessing a heavenly citizenship (Phil 3:20), with the result that they are sojourners in this world (1 Pt 2:11) awaiting their summons to a better land.  A similar outlook characterized the OT saints whose faith gave them assurance of things hope for (Heb 11:1, 13).  Christ’s followers are in the world but not of it (Jn 17:14).  This does not imply isolation from unsaved society, making witness impossible, but only a determination not to be conformed to its ideals and manner of life.  Believers belong to the (coming) day, so they are challenged to live a life of sobriety and alertness, ready for participation in eschatological salvation (1 Thess 5:4-11; Rom 13:11-14).   They are expected as well to be sufficiently informed about the implications of their faith to be able to explain their hope to those who inquire about it (1 Pt 3:15). (Geoffrey W. Bromiley; The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol Two: E-J, 753)


(6:28) Daniel was a success.  He thrived in Babylon.  Of course he did!  God knew the plans he had for Daniel, plans to prosper him and not to harm him.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 426)


Shalom is comprehensive peace.  “More than the absence of conflict and death,” says Clifford Green, “this rich term fills out the word community by embracing well-being, contentment, wholeness, health, prosperity, safety, and rest.”  Shalom means order, harmony, and happiness.  It means that all is right with the city.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 414)


When the city prospers, the church prospers.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 415)


Many Christians write the city off.  At most, they try to establish their own fortress within the city.  But God does not tell his people to seek peace in the city; he tells them to seek the peace of the city.  God is not trying to establish a ghetto but a government.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 415)


Like the exiles whom Jeremiah urged to seek the peace of Babylon, and like the early Christians who were urged to pray for kings and rulers, those who–as citizens of the city of God–are resident aliens in the earthly city, must nevertheless seek its good order, and, when called to responsibility as rulers, must accept it in the spirit of servants of the common good.  This is required by obedience to the law of God, which is love.  Thus the citizens of the heavenly city will actively seek the peace and good order of the earthly city, not seeking to forestall, but patiently awaiting, the final judgment when the two will be visibly separated and the heavenly city will appear in all its beauty.  Meanwhile, the monastic communities, such as the one to which Augustine belonged, are a visible sign and preliminary realization of a world ruled solely by the love of God in the midst of a world ruled by the love of self.  (Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, 105)


The exiles in Babylon did not have to wait seventy years for God to do them any good.  His plans included their present prosperity.  The word “prosper” is the same word Jeremiah used when he said, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city. . . because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (v. 7).  It is the Hebrew word shalom, meaning order, stability, health, and safety.  Shalom is all-encompassing peace.  God promised that he would begin to give his people that kind of peace right away.  He not only wanted them to work for shalom (vv. 5-7), he wanted to give it to them.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 425)


The spiritual disciplines are not to be seen as a pretext for separation and isolation from the world.  Rather they should be regarded as a means to conquest over the world.  Not the renunciation of the world but service in the world–this is the purpose of the disciplines of the spirit as seen in the Bible.  (Donald G. Bloesch, The Crisis of Piety)


Despite the fact that they were living in a godless city, he wanted them to lead normal lives.  Furthermore, he wanted them to build for the future.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 412)


The second-century Letter to Diognetus described the Christians’ lifestyle in the following way:  They live in their own countries, but only as aliens.  They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners.  Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land. . .It is true that they are “in the flesh,” but they do not live “according to the flesh.”  They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.  They obey the established laws, but in their own lives they go far beyond what the laws require.  They love all [people], and by all [people] are persecuted.  They are unknown, and still they are condemned; they are put to death, and yet they are brought to life.  They are poor, and yet they make many rich; they are completely destitute, and yet they enjoy complete abundance.  They are dishonored, and in their very dishonor are glorified; they are defamed, and are vindicated.  They are reviled, and yet they bless; when they are affronted, they still pay due respect. . . Christians dwell in the world, but are not of the world.  (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 5/19)


“A rising tide lifts all boats.”  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 415)


III-  God’s plans & promises for Fallen Creation will be revitalized through repentive submission to God’s yoke. (Jer 29:10-14; see also: Lv 26:40-42; Dt 30:1-10; 1 Kgs 8:33–50; 2 Chr 7:14; 30:6-10; Job 22:21; Ps 34:14; Isa 26:3; 57:2; Jer 3:4-19; 4:1-4; 7:5-7; Ezek 18:21-32; Joel 2:12-18; Jonah 3:8-9; Zech 1:3; Mal 3:7; Mt 3:2-8; 4:17; Lk 2:14; 15:7; 18:13-14; 19:42; Acts 2:38; 3:19; Jam 4:8-10; 1 Pt 2:18-25)


A tangible element to the future consists in the restoration of the people to their homeland.  The restoration, however, is predicated on their seeking God with their whole heart.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 262)


Remember, if we reject the wooden yoke of submission, we end up wearing only an iron yoke of subjugation (Jer 28:12-14).  Thus, the best course is to yield ourselves to the Lord and to those who are over us, no matter how badly they may treat us.  (See Peter’s counsel to Christian slaves in 1 Pt 2:18-25.)  To indulge in false hopes is to miss what God has planned for us.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 141)


If God’s plans are for the future, the Christian must not complain about the present.  One of the dangers of grumbling about what God is doing is that, whatever it is, God probably is not finished doing it.  By its very nature, a plan is something that will not be completed until sometime in the future.  And once it is completed, it will not be a plan anymore; it will be history.  If God has plans for hope and a future, you must give him enough time to work them out.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 422)


The period of waiting and surviving in a grim and threatening world of exile were to be years of spiritual discipline and an opportunity for repentance.  When the time of discipline had been accomplished Israel could truly seek God “with a whole heart”; only then could a return to the homeland become a genuine possibility, because only then could it become spiritually meaningful.  (R.E. Clements, Interpretation: Jeremiah, 173)


This means submitting to God’s Law and not being unequally yoked with an unbeliever.


In verse 14, Yahweh promised to bring back home not only those in Babylon but also those in other places, which he called all the nations.  Some see this as an unfulfilled prophecy until 1948 when the doors of Palestine were open to Jews from all over the world.  (Max Anders, Holman OT Commentary: Jeremiah, 242)


Underlying the main letter is the assumption that, though he had deported the exiles, Nebuchadnezzar was only the agent of the Lord.  Ultimately the Lord himself had brought about the Exile (v. 4).  Since the Lord’s will was behind it, for Judah the part of wisdom was submission.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 553)


What life does to us depends largely on what life finds in us.  If we seek the Lord and want His best, then circumstances will build us and prepare us for what He has planned.  If we rebel or if we look for quick and easy shortcuts, then circumstances will destroy us and rob us of the future God wants us to enjoy.  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Decisive, 142)


IV-  False prophets do not know the way to shalom.  (Jer 29:8-9, 15-19; see also: 2 Kgs 9:17-22; Isa 44:25; 59:8; Jer 6:14; 8:11; 14:13; 50:36; Ezek 13:10; Mt 7:15 ; 24:11, 24; Mk 13:22; 2 Pt 2:1; 1 Jn 4:1;  Rv 20:10)


These false prophets, named after two evil kings, were impatient.  They were unwilling to wait seventy years for God to work his plan.  They wanted him to work it out now; so they took matters into their own hands.  They started a seeker-sensitive synagogue, telling people what they most wanted to hear, that the Exile was almost over.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 423)


The false hope of a quick end to the Exile would only have nullified the disciplinary effects of the Exile.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, 552)


Jeremiah’s struggle against prophets who prophesy falsely in the Lord’s name extends even to the exilic community.  The book of Ezekiel carries on this struggle to present the exilic community with God’s word.  (J. Andrew Dearman, The NIV Application Commentary: Jeremiah, 262)


Literally, the Bible says Nebuchadnezzar “roasted” them, which was the proper punishment for treason in Hammurabi’s Code.  But the biggest sin Ahab and Zedekiah committed was not treason against Babylon, but treason against God.  They were not willing to live by faith in God’s promises.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 423)


Most likely, the reason Nebuchadnezzar had Ahab and Zedekiah put to death is that they tried to lead a rebellion against Babylon.  They were treated so disgracefully that they became swearwords among the exiles.  “Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘The LORD treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire” (v. 22).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 423)


Worship Point: Worship the God of the Universe Who loves you so much He has provided His Word and His Spirit to guide you into all truth so the truth can set you free.  God created and designed us to live in the garden (shalom), not the jungle.


Do you ever wonder what God is up to?  Of course.  We all do.  But whatever it is, God knows what he’s about.  He knows the plans he has for you.  Plans to prosper and not to harm you.  Plans for hope and a future.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 427)


Some Christians harbor a lingering suspicion that God is out to get them.  When things go well, they secretly think God eventually will make them pay for their prosperity.  Perhaps that is why God makes a point of saying that his plans are not harmful.  “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,” he calls them (Jer 29:11b).  God’s plans for his children are only good.  Even if God sends suffering their way, it will be for their good.  Christians who live in fear or worry need not grab hold of the goodness of God.  If you are God’s child, God is not going to hurt you.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 426)


Gospel Application: A new heart created by inviting Jesus to be Lord and Christ is the only way to real restoration, renewal, reformation, redemption, reconciliation and revitalization.  God wants His children to imitate Him in restoring a Fallen Creation to shalom.  (Jn 16:33; Rom 5:1; 8:6; Eph 2:14-15; Col 1:20)


The only basis for real and lasting shalom is the work of Christ on the cross.  The city cannot be at peace until the city knows Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  In its sin, the whole city is at war with God.  It deserves the wrath and curse of God.  But Jesus Christ came to make peace between God and humanity.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 415)


Whatever shalom the Hebrews offered to Babylon, Christians are able to offer a much greater peace to the postmodern city.  What we offer is eternal peace with God through the work of Christ on the cross.  That peace is the basis for everything else we do in the city.  It is what makes us neighborly, compassionate, and charitable.  When the city finds peace with God, all will be well with the city.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Preaching the Word: Jeremiah, 415)


     There are debates among Christians about the NT implication of the OT Cultural or Creation Mandate.  Should Christians no longer be concerned about culture, authority, dominion, work, and all that has traditionally been associated with the OT Creation Mandate?  Those Christians believe the Great Commission supersedes the Creation mandate.

     But, I personally believe that the Great Commission becomes more effective in light of and in the midst of implementation of the OT Creation mandate.

     The Great Commission is the Gospel.  The Gospel is truth.  The Creation Mandate is a healthy culture.  A healthy culture is a grace that is best for all mankind.  I believe the Bible teaches that the best possible evangelistic campaign is a balanced approach of both gospel and encouraging a healthy culture:  or truth and grace.  —Pastor Keith


The citizens of the City of God are the very best citizens in the earthly city.  (Augustine as quoted by Tim Keller; The Meaning of the City – sermon)


Christians are to be an alternate city in every city (Mt 5:16); in which they take sex, money, and power; and (Instead of having them used as they are in the earthly city on the basis of exploitation and pride, sex, money and power is a way to make a name for myself, sex, money and power is a way to feel good about myself.  Therefore, it becomes exploitative and destructive.)  Instead, the alternate city, in every city, is a place where sex, money and power are used in life giving ways.  (Tim Keller; The Meaning of the City – sermon)


God told Jesus, “I want you to become an alien in a hostile, foreign world so you can bring peace, and prosperity to them.” (Tim Keller; The Meaning of the City – sermon)


Jesus says, “The way you bear witness in the earthly city, to God’s heavenly city . . .. you don’t work in the earthly city for your sake or your tribe’s sake.  If you go into the city to work for your sake, you’ll assimilate.  If you go into the city to work for your tribe’s sake, you’ll disdain them.  Jesus says, “Don’t work in the city for your sake.  Don’t work in the city for your tribe’s sake.  Work in the city for the city’s sake. (Tim Keller; The Meaning of the City – sermon)    


People seek power for personal fulfillment and with the hopes of changing society, but political power fails on both counts.  Seeking power leads to corruption; it fails to solve our problems because power cannot change the human heart, which is the source of our behavior and our sin.  For centuries, political leaders have promised redemption through utopian government solutions.  But because these programs are based on a false worldview, they always lead to tyranny in one form or another.  (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 315)


The indwelling Spirit thus determines the Christian’s outlook on all things.  The Christian is not in an alien world except insofar as other people make it so by denying the unity sensed by the Christian in the whole order of being, animate and inanimate.  It is the Holy Spirit that makes you feel at home in God’s world and homeless in man’s rival world.  It is the Holy Spirit that makes you feel angry with those who see nothing around them but machinery, conflict, and chaotic randomness.  (Harry Blamires; Christian Truth, 66-7)


Spiritual Challenge: There are hundreds of thousands of false prophets trying to get you to believe that their way is the way to shalom.  Don’t listen to them.  Look to Jesus.


Spiritual Challenge Questions:

  1. What is the message of the false prophets today? How do you know they are false prophets?
  2. Sometimes the Bible says to flee from wicked persons and to oppose them. Here, in Jeremiah 29, we are not only to work with them and encourage wealthy, progress and success; but to even pray for their prosperity.  How can we know when to oppose and when to support?
  3. What is the Cultural/Creation Mandate? Pastor Keith taught that the Cultural or Creation Mandate has eternal implications for every era and every culture.  Do you think this is true?   Why or why not.


So What?: Real shalom can only come by a relationship with Jesus.  Look to Him for real World Peace.


How are the key relationships in your life?  What about your marriage?  What about your relationship with your children?  If you are single, how are you doing in the area of moral purity?  Dad, Mom, do you see your family as an opportunity for God to demonstrate his power and grace to those who are watching? 

     “What’s this got to do with vision?” you ask.  Everything.  We are not much of a light on a hill if we sacrifice people and purity for the sake of achieving our vision.  When we do so, we remove any incentive God may have had to bless our labor.  We become unblessable because we have made ourselves unusable.  At that point there is nothing of significance for God to draw attention to.  (Andy Stanley, Visioneering, 229)


It is a biblical truth that the more earnest we become about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and the more devoted we become to reaching the unreached peoples of the world, and exposing the works of darkness, and loosing the bonds of sin and Satan, the more we will suffer.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 342)


“The way for the world to know that it needs redeeming, that it is broken and fallen, is for the church to enable the world to strike hard against something which is an ALTERNATIVE to what the world offers.

     Unfortunately, an accomodationist church, so intent on running errands for the world, is giving the world less and less in which to disbelieve.  Atheism slips into the church where God really does not matter, as we go about building bigger and better congregations (church administrations), confirming people’s self-esteem (worship), enabling people to adjust their anxieties brought on by their materialism (Pastoral care), and making Christ a worthy subject for poetic reflection (preaching).  At every turn the church must ask itself, does it really make any difference, in our life together, in what we do, that in Jesus Christ God is reconciling the world to himself?” (William Willimon and Stanely Hauerwas; Resident Aliens, 94-5)


“We inoculate the world with a mild form of Christianity so that it will be immune to the real thing.  (William Willimon and Stanely Hauerwas; Resident Aliens, 90)








Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply