Cities and the Governing of them
In Scripture, cities are referred to as a reward given for being a good steward. (See Luke 19).
In Revelation 21:2 it talks about the Holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down.
The ancient world saw Jerusalem as the place where heaven and earth met.
The battle between Judah and Babylon is a physical picture of the spiritual battle that has raged since the beginning of time.
In both the Old and New Testaments, Babylon and Jerusalem are identified as the earthly representations of the epic struggle between the forces of righteousness and unrighteousness.
These 2 cities symbolize opposing ways of relating to God and all of life.
“Babylon” means – to confuse, disintegrate, fragment and disunite.
The harsh reality is – the Western world has abandoned its moral compass. We have traded our collective conscience, our sense of right and wrong, for freedom from restraint.
Babylonian philosophy pervades every facet of society.
This subtle, deceptive spirit seeks to enslave entire nations by seducing and manipulating the minds of men and women away from the Jerusalem pattern for living.
In stark contrast, Jerusalem represents the reality of the spiritual promise of life in the kingdom of God. It is in reality the recipient of nothing less than divine favour. It represented everything sacred in society.
In the New Testament context, all believers are citizens of this heavenly city.
The Jerusalem / Babylon battle continues to be expressed in every nation in every generation. It is a spiritual battle transcending time, space, geography and race.
Like the prisoners of Nebuchadnezzar, we are engaged in a conflict to preserve the remnants of righteousness in our society while also taking back ground lost in previous conflicts.
The Babylonian influence on Western culture has precipitated a fundamental shift in the way we now live our lives.
The battle for the nations of the earth, will ultimately be a struggle for control of the culture – who is in charge and who will set the social agenda.
Daniel sorted out the challenge of demonstrating his faith in a hostile culture.
His life is an example of how to reclaim the cultural terrain from the hands of the enemy. He was willing to learn the language of Babylon without being nourished by the spirit of Babylon. We will never transform contemporary society if we are unwilling to learn its language. We must sing our song in the land of Babylon – it is a place of vulnerability.
Most of the Bible was written while God’s people were behind enemy lines.
Significant portions of the Old Testament were played out while the Israelites were in bondage to Egypt, Assyria, Babylon or Medeo–Persia.
The entire New Testament was lived out while Israel chafed under Roman occupation. The Patriachs and the Prophets clearly understood what it was like to be held captive by a hostile society.
During the 1st decade of Daniel’s 70 years of exile, the remaining citizens of Judah carried on with business as usual. The Babylonian captives were all but forgotten by the majority of Israel. (There were no prayer vigils, no visits by hostage negotiators etc, the captives were resigned to their fate.)
But all this changed when they received the prophetic message from Jeremiah.
Jeremiah’s advice flew in the face of their past experience in captivity under the domination of the Egyptians and Assyrians. It looked like Jeremiah had formed an alliance with their captors. Rather than encourage them to revolt and break free from the bondage of Babylon, he was urging them to accept their confinement and settle in for another 6 decades!
How do we rule and effect global transformation in our generation?
Jeremiah 28 – 29 reveals 7 components of biblical reformation in a nation.
Originally written to the captives of Nebuchadnezzar, these principles are relevant to our own cultural crisis and serve to awaken the spiritual and social consciousness of any nation.
We must acknowledge and honour spiritual authority
These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive – to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This happened after Jeconiah the king, the queen mother, the eunuchs, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.)
Jeremiah 29:1 – 2
Jeremiah’s first step was to address those who sat at the gates of the city.
Rather than spread subversion and insurrection, the prophet appealed to those occupying the seat of authority in society.
Jeremiah was acknowledging the principles of submission and authority. He wrote to those capable of carrying out his prophetic instructions; the leaders.
Jesus consistently focused His attention on the Pharisees because of the role they played in the authority structure. He challenged them as they were the spiritual gatekeepers of His day.
The same principle is found in Numbers 13 – 14, where the twelve spies returned from Canaan after investigating the land. The spies were heads of the children of Israel (Numbers 13:3). They were the spiritual gatekeepers of their generation.
So Jeremiah interceded for the gatekeepers of his day. We need to pray for the gatekeepers of our generation.
We must regain Historical clarity
“Thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon.”
In adverse situations we tend to just look at what is in front of us in the situation, we forget that this is just a point on the timeline of our lives.
Jeremiah said “Don’t forget who orchestrated these events”. He was reminding them of the reason for their captivity. This was his attempt to reconnect them with their history, in order to position them for their destiny.
To forget the past is to abort the future.
As twenty first century Christians, we must remind ourselves that we are connected with something much bigger than us. God’s purpose predates our personal perspective. This thing did not begin with us. We are joined with a great cloud of witnesses. To see the Kingdom of God is to see the bigger picture. The Kingdom is that unbroken line of continuity that keeps us grounded to the past and the future. God’s Kingdom has always existed, and it has been revealed progressively through every covenant God has instituted in time and eternity.
We must establish economic viability
“Thus says the Lord of hosts….Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit.”
Jeremiah 29:4 – 5
Jeremiah actually expected the captives to put down roots in this foreign land!
Jeremiah is inviting them to put down roots and establish foundations.
We have been given resources by God to Build! We do not have a poverty mentality! [Deut 8:18 “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day”]
To establish the covenant is to reveal the promises of God to those who have neither seen nor heard them.
Our mission as the church is to co-labour with Christ to bring forth the will of the Father in this present age. To establish the covenant in our generation.
We must develop Family Stability
“Take wives and beget sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters – that you may be increased there, and not diminished.”
Jeremiah, in spite of social upheaval, war, famine, crime and pestilence, realized that the enemy would be displaced only through the seed of the righteous.
Jeremiah knew that, rather than contributing to the problem, those unborn generations were, in fact, the solution to the problem.
With 6 decades of captivity remaining before them, those exiles had been prophetically positioned by God to reclaim the cultural landscape through multi-generational ministry.
Likewise, when we train our children in the ways of righteousness, and then send them out to exercise dominion in the earth, we are reclaiming the culture for Christ.
We need to understand that the purpose of God usually takes at least 3 generations to implement.
By alienating the family the enemy has been able to destroy continuity among the generations. Thus each generation is forced to start all over and relearn the lessons that should have been taught them by their parents.
Righteous families provide the foundation for spiritual and social reformation in a nation.
There is a trend in society toward home based businesses. This is nothing new. The strategy for world dominion has always flowed out of a home environment.
God intended for Adam and Eve to rule the world from their home in the Garden.
We must take social responsibility
“Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace”
As difficult as it is to face, the Lord says we find our peace in the peace of the city.
It’s not to say that we cannot live in peace while the world around us struggles in confusion or conflict. We can.
Our peace is not of human design; it is of spiritual origin. God has designed a lifestyle whereby we can live in health while the world is ravaged by incurable diseases, and raise our families in peace while society loses one more generation to despair and rebellion.
But our peace is also connected to the peace of the city as we know God’s desire is for people to live in health and provision and wholeness. When the city is blessed, I have cause to rejoice with those around me who have also been blessed. My concerns are set at peace.
We must Recover Spiritual Integrity
“The prophets who have been befor me and before you of old prophesied against many countries and great kingdoms – of war and disaster and pestilence. As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent.”
Jeremiah 28:8 – 9
If we are to live as people who love God, we must be willing to say what God says, even when it goes against the tide of public opinion. We must be comfortable with silence when God is not speaking.
If you are uncomfortable with a sovereign silence, then you will yield to the pressure to speak on God’s behalf, even when He is not speaking. You will find yourself motivated by human need and compassion, the desire to help a suffering person on God’s behalf, rather than by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
If we want to see reformation in the nations, starting with our own, then we must rebuild the ruins of spiritual integrity.
Living in an age of self-rule has blinded many people to an understanding of divine order. What does this mean? To embrace divine order is to acknowledge that we are incapable of ruling our lives independent of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. We must allow King Jesus to structure our lives so that we live in harmony with the will of the Father. It is to surrender our lives to the government of heaven.
The world is still looking for a standard – people who will walk what they talk, live what they preach and deliver what they promise.
As humiliating and painful as it was, Jeremiah led the way in rebuilding spiritual integrity.
We must Rediscover Biblical Integrity
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him. I have given him the beasts of the field also. “’ Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie.”
Jeremiah 28:14 – 15
As we tune our ears to the frequency of heaven, we must remind ourselves that the Scriptures take precedence over every spiritual gift given to the church.
What does the word of God say about the desire of heaven to change the earth? What is the attitude of the Father toward the nations?
Is God finished with the planet, or is He still drawing us into His eternal plan?
What is God’s heart for the nations as revealed in scripture?
Two things are vital in how we live our Christian lives each day.
- How we respond when we find ourselves in cultural or political captivity, faced with the pressures of intimidation, oppression or, in the extreme case, martyrdom.
- How we relate to and interact in cultures that are unreceptive or even hostile to our faith.
We know that the earth belongs to the Lord. He created it, upholds it and governs to the degree that sin is restrained from overcoming and destroying human civilisation.
Beatitudes – the very heart and soul of the kingdom. [Matthew 5:3 – 12]
They describe the essential character of Kingdom citizens and reveal the ethical conduct required of true disciples of Jesus Christ.
These revolutionary principles require the inner transformation of one’s attitude toward eternal issues.
They turn ordinary ideas upside down and demand a response from us that is foreign to the lower nature of unregenerate man. These attitudes do not manifest themselves in our lives naturally; they originate in a supernatural realm.
There is nothing attractive about these Beatitudes in and of themselves.
It requires a radical shift in our thinking and expectations – one that comes neither easily nor naturally.
Jesus shows us that the one who follows these principles will be blessed of God and made to be envied by others. These principles, if followed, produce the results that provoke nations to jealousy.
We show the world how to live when we:
- Manifest humility of life in the midst of arrogance and pride.
- Live a lifestyle of repentance and intercession in the midst of denial and blame displacement.
- Live with sensitivity and teachableness in the midst of selfishness.
- Manifest genuine dependence on the grace of God in the midst of religious self-righteousness.
- Manifest mercy and grace in the midst of anger and vengeance.
- Manifest purity of soul in the midst of a deceitful culture.
- Stand for truth, justice and peace in the midst of apathy and complacency.
- Respond in love and graciousness when we are persecuted and ridiculed.
- Stand unflinchingly in the face of popular opinion, esteeming Kingdom values above our acceptance by others.
Written by Penny Whalley