It had been only three or four days since I heard first whisper to me, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you,” and in those few days, two other people have come to me with the same message. They’re the first two people who have brought that particular verse to me in more than a decade.
Jeremiah 29:3-9: “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; and plant gardens and eat their produce. ‘Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. ‘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.’ “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. ‘For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD.
There is a commonly held opinion in the church today that we are now raising the last generation that will live on this planet, that the end of this world is near and that Jesus will soon come back to collect His bride and take home to Him in Heaven. I’ve known some young believers who jokingly engage in “Rapture Practice”: standing outdoors and jumping towards heaven, arms outstretched, as if to be taken heavenward any second.
And I’ve heard some Christians grow frustrated with the leaders of this world, and write them off with, “Aww, they can have it!” the clear implication being that they are soon to abandon this world for the next. I remember old hymns by the names of “I’ll Fly Away” and “I’ve Got A Mansion, Way Up Yonder.”
On the other hand, there are other believers who live from day to day, not paying much attention to the imminent return of
Both groups are in error, of course; the “Steady Eddie’s” for ignoring the approaching Day, and the Rapture Fanatics for ignoring their assignments on Earth.
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to be away of the drawing near of that day, and to make changes in our lives accordingly:
Hebrews 10:24-25: And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (emphasis added)
The way I see it, we’re supposed to live for heaven, but we’re supposed to live on earth. We live with our eyes on our Heavenly Father, but our hands on the work that He’s given us to do on this earth.
Scripture is given, you recall, as an example to us.
Genesis 41:39-45: Then Pharaoh said to
42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on
There’s a verse that I’ve been puzzling about for a long time. Finally, with this command of “Invest in your community, Son,” it begins to make sense:
Luke 19:13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. (KJV)
A newer translation says it this way:
Luke 19:13-14 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.' (NKJV)
The English word “occupy” is a military word; it means you’ve already conquered the territory, now keep it governed for the new rulers. The Greek word for “occupy” or “do business” is pragmateúomai and it is a business term, but it’s a term of ownership, not busywork. It means both “Be engaged in a business for profit,” and “be occupied with reference to the affairs of state.
God is looking for a gain, a profit, an increase from us, which means that we must invest the resources that He’s given us into the people and circumstances that He’s placed around us.
Clearly, He’s not looking for money from us; “You can’t take it with you” clearly applies, but having money is a fine way to accomplish a profit in terms of lives, of influence, of relationship. Have you noticed how much influence the wealthy have as compared to the poor?
So the command is to invest in the community that God has placed you into.
‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. ‘Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. ‘Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you….’
Our place is to be in the world, not of the world. The other half of that, of course, is to be of Heaven, but not yet in Heaven: we have a job to do here.