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Life In A Pagan City

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
February 14, 2021 1:00 am

Life In A Pagan City

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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February 14, 2021 1:00 am

Should believers living in a country under God’s judgment simply withdraw from public life? Or should they engage their culture with enthusiasm? The surprising answer to this dilemma comes from God’s instructions to the captive nation of Judah living in Babylon.

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Should believers living under national judgment circle the wagons and live off the grid or engage their flawed culture with enthusiasm. The surprising answer comes from God's instructions to captive Judah living in Babylon. Please stay with us from Chicago. We welcome you to The Moody Church.

Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin Luzerne on this broadcast. We continue a 10 part series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of a spirit filled witness later Erwin looks or takes us to Jeremiah chapter 29 for a look at living in a pagan city. Dr. Lidster comes now to open our service.

Let us pray together, giving ourselves to the Lord. Opening our hearts to him to hear his voice and to worship him acceptably through Jesus Christ our Lord. Father, we want to thank you for today for all of your mercies and the grace that you have shown to us. We ask that as we gather together that you might help us to sing to your glory to listen for your glory. We thank you so much for those who have joined us today our special choir. Ask your blessing upon them as well. In Jesus name Amen amen. Please remain standing and I do want to point out that today we have the privilege of having the Masters corral from California. All of us know of the ministry of John MacArthur. He is president of Masters college and that we rejoice today that they are here to bless us. I invite you to follow along with me in your bolting. As we read together from Romans chapter 8 please read aloud with me in the bold print. This is God's holy word. What then shall we say to these things. If God is for us who can be against us. He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things, who shall bring any charge against God's elect is God who justifies. Who is to condemn Christ Jesus is the one who died more than that, who was raised who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us, who shall separate us from the love of Christ shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or danger or sword. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate from the love of Christ. Christ Jesus our Lord is in an and in an will and today I hope that you're going to be as excited about this message as I am as it progresses because at last we are going to be taught what to do as a minority in a majority culture. By that I mean that we as Christians are a minority within the United States of America used to be that Christianity was the dominant religion. Christian values permeated our country, even though not all, of course were Christian but there was a general except Christian values today. All that you have to do is this, is to express your convictions regarding biblical marriage and sexuality and then you find out what happens in article or if you suggest that Jesus is the only way to the father. You get the same kind of reaction at last in this series of messages were going to talk about living as a minority is a Christian minority in a country that is largely non-Christian in its values and outlook.

You know the Bible tells us that Israel was in the land of course. And then what happened is when to babble, and specifically Judah at last we're going to talk about the church in babble and I do not mean to say that Israel is the church we make that distinction and it is important to us. But as I look at the Bible in the Old Testament and ask myself. What's the best example of how to live in a pagan culture.

I think of the people of Judah living in Babylon now, in order to remember the context of these messages. Six messages were given about all of the judgments that Jeremiah was putting upon the people. He said God is going to judge you. A nation is going to come from the north. You are going to experience a great deal of devastation and the people absolutely refused to repent and babble in came. In fact, in the year 605 Babylon swept down and that many of the Jews were carried off to the country of Babylon.

They came to Jerusalem, that is babble and dad and took people back to babble.

Among them was Daniel and does some of his friends and then a few years later in 605 are rather in 597. The Babylonians came again to Jerusalem and took about 10,000 people or more, all the way to babble and and after that 587 they come and they totally destroy the temple and everything that is Israel.

Now that's where we left this series of messages last message was on the Lamentations of Jeremiah as he walks through the rubble of the destroyed city and he is the weeping prophet and he has reason to weep. But now the Israelites are in babble and they have walked about 600 miles babble and is where a racket is today and that the city of babble in itself is about 60 miles from Baghdad but imagine people died on the way back in Jerusalem.

They left all of their families. Many of those were put to death, or they died of starvation.

These are the survivors and they make it into the land I think it's time for us to simply take a deep breath and remember what they were facing these people were coming into a culture that was totally foreign to them an entirely different culture when they were back in the land when they were there in Jerusalem.

The temple was the center of their worship. They brought sacrifices to the temple. Now there is no temple there will be no sacrifices and furthermore they worshiped Yahweh.

They worship Jehovah.

All I know that there was idolatry, but Jehovah was the God that was generally accepted. Now they're going to be in babble and in the Babylonians worship all kinds of God, including Ishtar, the goddess of fertility. The gods of babble and know nothing about the 10 Commandments, the gods of babble and are filled with a license for immorality, and the people are going to be in that environment and no wonder that people so beleaguered. This is Psalm 137 by the waters of babble and there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.

On the willows there we hung our harps for their our captors required of the songs and our tormentors. That's the Babylonians.

They said to us will sing one of your songs of Zion sarcastically. They asked for that. How shall we sing the song of the Lord in a foreign land. If I forget you will Jerusalem let my right hand forget it skill, let my tongue stick to the roof of my boat that I do not remember you if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy. So there they were in babble and without a song. Now Jeremiah doesn't go to babble and he actually is there.

He survives all of these invasions he ends up going to Egypt and so far as we know, that's where he died, but before he died, God gave him a revelation, a letter that was to be sent to these exiles in order to teach them how to live in the midst of this pagan culture. I hope that you have your Bibles because the text today is from Jeremiah chapter 29 Jeremiah chapter 29 contains the instructions given by God for how these people are to live in babble and and it is surprising what God has to say and I believe that it has relevance for us today.

God says these are the instructions I'm going to give you five instructions instruction number one, you'll notice it says in verse four.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to babble in 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 made their sons and daughters multiplied their and do not decrease surprise while God says instruction number one is build houses. Don't try to live in your tent because you are going to be there for 70 long years, the false prophets were saying over nothing to be here long.

God is going to get us out of here really fast because God wouldn't put up with us here in babble and with all of these pagans.

Jeremiah is saying don't accept cheap promises and by the way, the false prophets today often times seen on television. They are giving out a lot of cheap promises that we had better avoid.

God says it is going to be difficult and what I want you to do is to plant crops build houses because you are going to be there and I will take care of you in the midst of a pagan culture number one God says plant crops live among the Babylonians, build houses number two aces have strong families. Were you surprised when I read the text.

A moment ago when it says take wives and have sons and daughters and they give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters and multiply there and do not decrease God says what you ought to do when you are there and babble them is to have some singles parties so that young women can meet young men and so that you can get them married off so that you can have huge families that comes as a surprise doesn't because you may say to yourself, how can you raise children in a pagan environment. Now they didn't attend school in babble and but I'm sure that what their children heard out on the street made up for it. And so God says I want you to have lots of children.

You see, the reason that the Lord knew that these families would be able to survive paganism is because in Judaism there were always strong fathers who had the responsibility of the home. And of course it was the father.

You know who was the head of the Passover that is to say he is the one who was in charge of the Passover and God knew that with strong fathers taught in the word of God that had been revealed to that time. These families could survive paganism and two things would happen number one God would have seed and the message of Jesus Christ. Eventually, of course, through the prophets, and so forth. The message of Judaism. The truth of Judaism would be preserved in the lives of children. Furthermore, God needed children so that future generations. 70 years later would be able to return to the land so goddesses have families in the midst of this culture.

Just this past week I was again with my friend Tony Evans. I happened to be in Dallas for a day for a meeting with pastors and Tony was there, but I recall him saying one time but when his children were in school when they came home in the evening they would spend some time to deprogram them. Ask them what happened in school. What were you taught, what values were communicated and they were very vigilant in allowing their children the opportunity to go to a school like that, but they knew that they had to step in as parents with incredible vigilance. I can imagine that the very same thing happened here in babble and God says I'm going to entrust large families to you and I'm going to be with you in your homes you don't have a temple anymore. No more sacrifices, but I will be with you in your home. And if you adhere to me and seek my face all give you the wisdom that you need to rear your children for the glory of God have large families. That's instruction number two let's want to number three. You'll notice goddesses be good neighbors.

I'm in verse seven, but seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and prayed to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare. You will find your welfare. The Hebrew word for welfare is shalom.

So God says, seek the shalom of the city that word shalom is often translated welfare or peace, but it actually means something more than that. It's sort of a holistic view of what peace is all about. It can refer to prosperity, wholeness, blessing, favor goddesses be good neighbors he saying shovel your snow off the sidewalk in winter. Mow your lawn when the neighbor across the street has a need you meet that need.

Invite your neighbor over build relationships, pay your taxes in Chicago seek election try to become an alderman, do all that you possibly can to invest in the city because notice what God says in its shalom. You will find shalom and others that old line that when the tide comes in all boats float so as you permeate the city with righteousness with your families with a sense of determination to bless the city blessing will come back upon you, seek its welfare because in the process. You also shall be blessed, and your welfare will be connected with its blessing.

That's number three, number four, and when I first made out the outline, I left out the most in Porton instruction that God gave them. He says, seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and prayed to the Lord on its behalf. Again were going a little too fast here for us to understand how this must've just blown apart the minds of the Jewish people. You're supposed to pray for babble and remember it's the soldiers of Babel and who came and destroyed your family. They killed your parents.

Perhaps, or your relatives. It is the Babylonians who came and totally destroyed your temple and now goddesses pray for their blessing. Pray for their shalom. We here at The Moody Church have days of prayer and fasting. We have concerts of prayer at our next concert of prayer. I'm very glad to announce to you, and that's going to be just in a few weeks you're going to hear about it that we now have access to a booklet that is been published by Dr. pewter Moody press that highlights the 74 different neighborhoods of Chicago gives basically its boundaries, its characteristics and one of the things that we are going to do is to pray for every single neighborhood of this city and were going to pray for its shalom for the blessing of God on this great city and when we pray for the shalom of the city. What do we pray for were going to pray for the city economically there are areas of this city where they need economically is so great, the need for jobs and what have you were going to pray for the safety of the city most assuredly that's wrapped up in that word shalom will pray for the shalom of the city. I haven't heard any news this morning that it's like other mornings. I'm sure that there were some murders in the city of Chicago this past week if not last night but I need to say that that is really just the tip of an iceberg. We hear about these things on the news, but that does not mean we know anything about the kind of violence that is taking the kind of alienation that is being experienced by the children of the city goddesses pray for the city uplifted in prayer. Pray for it economically pray for its safety. Pray for the politics of the city.

The Scripture is very clear that we should pray for kings and for those who have authority over us. We should be praying regularly for the mayor and for those who advised him in the city Council. That is our God given privilege to pray for the city you and I also know that when we pray those prayers we have to also pray for the real shalom of the city that is to say that men and women might come to the peace the shalom that God is able to give them, through Jesus Christ our Lord, let it be said of this church that we pray for the city that we seek its welfare because in its welfare. We also are blessed. Let me go on now to 1/5 instruction that is to say that what we should be doing is to look beyond the present to the future to look beyond the present to the promises of God. Your Bibles are open. Notice it says in verse 10 for thus says the Lord. When 70 years are completed for babble and I will visit you and will fulfill to you my promises and bring you back to this place for I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you and you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

There many of you who long ago memorized the 11th verse of Jeremiah chapter 29 Jeremiah 2911. I know the plans goddesses that I have for you lands of wholeness to give you a future and a hope. And I understand why we take that verse of Scripture some time from its context, and we use it for ourselves.

But did you notice that in its context. It is a reference specifically to Israel and the restoration goddesses after 70 years. I'm going to come to you and you're going to be going back and I have for you at future and a hope. Now just think for a moment, let's suppose that you are 40 years old in Babylon.

You survived all these difficult journeys in these difficult times, and there you are and you and you received this promise that in 70 years you will all go back. What would you be thinking what you'd be thinking. I'm thankful for the promise but is not can apply to me because I'm to die here and most of the people didn't die there and their children learned of the language of Acadian and when they came back 70 years later they had basically forgotten their Hebrew. This is indicated in the book of Ezra and the book of Nehemiah but that does not mean that there was no hope for that generation that would die in Babel and those who understood the promises of God knew that despite the fact that they would not be going back. They would still inherit all of the promises of God given to those who believe. Abraham, for example, Abraham died in faith, not having received what was promised. It says in the book of Hebrews got it promised of all kinds of things the land the blessing etc. etc. he died in faith in you and I sometimes don't see the fulfillment of certain promises, but we die in a looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ and we live in that hope in the Bible says also that someday our bodies will be transformed into the likeness of his glorious body. So we die without seeing all of the promises fulfilled. But we need to die in the hope because we know that God's promises are true and in a time of hopelessness.

We look to him and were reminded of what he has promised us and God says that to Israel not having given the five instructions.

What I'd like to do is to nail this down for us by three important lessons that grow out of this text that should help us here in the city of Chicago should help us as missionaries wherever we find ourselves. We should be encouraged.

Lesson number one is this that God cares for his people. God cares for his people even when they are under judgment, even when they are under judgment.

Now, I believe that the people obviously were there in judgment because they had disobeyed and the righteous suffer with the wicked by the way, the next message in this series. Whatever you do don't miss it because it's going to be entitled. Conflicts of conscience. How do we live as members of the city of God in the city of man when we are asked to do some things that violate our consciences. It's going to be the next message in this series but what God is saying here is that I'm going to take care of you look at look at what it says in the text it says, for example, in verse four, in the middle of the verse to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem. You can see also now in verse seven, seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you. God sent the people to Babel and even though they were there because of judgment goddesses. I'm not going to forsake you.

Because I take care of you where I send you and you may find yourself today in a predicament that is very difficult. But God has sent you there, and God will care for you. There, now you say will what happened to George new know there he was in the will of God in Haiti and he is murdered when we asked the question of where was God when George new was killed. We have to answer it by asking this question. Where was God when his own son is killed. The fact that God takes care of his people does not exempt them from the vicissitudes of life from the difficulties of life, or even death.

But this much we do know that when we trust the care of God. There is no combination of angels and demons that can kill us. If God thinks we still have work to do. Let us rejoice today that we are in God's hands. No matter the circumstances to which we been brought to this moment, no matter the difficulties if you know Christ as Savior and you belong to God. We are ultimately in his sovereign hand. God is sovereign over his own people. But there's another lesson that grows out of this and that is that God is sovereign over the nation. He is sovereign over the nation. You'll notice it says in verse 10, when the 70 years are over, I'm going to bring you back if you ever wondered how we know that the Bible is a dual authorship. The Bible is written by man. It's also written by God, deep strike that I root so heavenly vine into our earthly sawed most human, yet most divine and the flower of man and God. The reason we know it is one of the reasons is because of the predictions which I had time to explain it more carefully. But did you know that in Isaiah chapter 40 God makes a prediction that after the Babylonians are finished, the medial Persian Empire is going to capture Babel and in working to be talking about that it's the handwriting on the wallets that night and a man by the name of Cyrus is going to let the Jews go back to Jerusalem.

This is in chapter 44, God says Jerusalem will be inhabited. The cities of Judah shall be rebuilt and I will raise up the ruins. It is God who says of Cyrus. He is my shepherd, he shall fulfill all my purpose, saying, of Jerusalem, she shall be built the temple the foundation shall be laid, etc. now you have to take this by faith because I don't have the time to delineate the timeline but just know this that Isaiah wrote these words about 100 years before Cyrus was born, and 150 years after he made the decree to allow the Jews to come back after 70 you realize what that means. It would be equivalent to you predicting who's going to be the president of the United States of America 100 years from now and then accurately predicting his most important foreign policy decision and naming him by name goddesses, Cyrus. You are my servant, you're the one who is going to be used to allow the Jews to go back and Cyrus is not yet born. Bible says that God calls those things that are not in God is the one who knows the end from the beginning you maybe going for your own personal trial today were not in Babel and but could I just encourage you by saying this that God knows the intensity of the trial that you're going through, but God also knows it's duration goddesses to Israel. You'll be in Babel and for 70 years and 70 years. It was finally this is important. God's promises to us are fulfilled. Also in the future, even as we talk about the shalom of the city.

We know that in the New Testament, it becomes abundantly clear that shalom actually resides in a person and it is his shalom that we should give to the world that is the peace of Jesus Christ, those Jews you know who are faithful, they began to see this, but not with the clarity with which we see it that ultimately our good. Our final shalom is the message that we have for the city of Chicago. You see what God said to Israel, I keep saying Israel, though it was the inhabitants of Judah that were there in Babylon, goddesses, you have to be missionaries of shalom, you have to recognize that I have you there. Not only because I am refining you I'm not going to destroy you there, but I am going to refine you. There, but one of the reasons that you are there is to represent me to those Babylonians, whose hearts may be opened so that they would be able to accept my true shalom is going to come in the person of the Messiah and today are true.

Shalom has come to this world think for a moment about the words of Jesus have often pondered this Jesus is speaking to his disciples and he says peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Could you imagine those words in the mouth of anyone else we'd haul that person away men in uniforms would come and gently lead them and we might not see them again. Think of that, think, think of the words. Think of your sitting on the couch and that Freud is talking to you and Freud is trying to find out why you're not at peace. You know where you got this problem you got this problem and finally he says peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid wow that ever bless you. You even imagine or what if your friend were to say those words. The only reason that Jesus Christ can say he is the true shalom is because our hearts are not at peace because of sin. There's some of you here today your heart is not at peace and you don't know why what Jesus does is he breaks the barrier between us and God by reconciling us with God, we have peace with God, but Jesus also brings peace within our own hearts. The Civil War that some of you are experiencing with in that Civil War is brought to peace when Jesus comes to take over. So I ask you, you want to shalom the shalom that Chicago needs the shalom that our homes need. It is found in Jesus, the Prince of shalom. Let's bow together in prayer our father we ask that you will help us to live in this great and wonderful city's needs are huge. All God. We pray that you might enable us to represent you well that people might know that there is a Savior that peace is available through Jesus Christ our Lord, and may his mind be in us, for those who listen to this message today who never believed on Christ. Their hearts are restless, help them to know that peace is found in Jesus Christ. May they come to know him, and may we all bless this city for your glory in your honor. We ask in Jesus name, amen on today's Moody Church.

Our Dr. Erwin Lidster spoke on life in a pagan city. The seventh message in a 10 part series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness life in a pagan land is not easy.

Next time on The Moody Church. Our return to Daniel chapter 1 and learn all about conflicts of conscience, the church in Babylon series shows us how to live during times of spiritual darkness. The series is imprint as Erwin Blitzer's book the church in Babylon. A copy is waiting for you as our thank you for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church.

Our just call us at 1-800-215-5001. Ask about the church in Babylon when you call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at The Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to that's join us next week for another Moody Church. Our with Dr. Erwin Lutzer and the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church

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