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Life In A Pagan City Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
March 10, 2022 1:00 am

Life In A Pagan City Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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March 10, 2022 1:00 am

Should Christians separate themselves from the prevailing culture or engage it with enthusiasm? The surprising answer comes from God’s instructions to captive Judah living in Babylon. Under the judgment of God, thousands were taken into Babylonian exile, where they dwelled in a pagan society. In this message, we’ll find five instructions God has for His people in Jeremiah 29. We could do well to live by these instructions in today’s culture. 

 Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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Run with endurance the race is looking to Jesus, founder and perfecter of our 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 Living in Babylon from the church in Chicago this morning to win with Dr. Sir was clear teaching obsessed make it across the finish line. Today we continue a series on the church in Babylon after elixir you're heading into Jeremiah chapter 29 to talk about life in a pagan city. It seems you're extending a ray of hope for no date when Israel was in Babel, and they had a choice. They had to make were they going to pull away from the culture try to live in their own cloisters, so to speak, or were they going to live in the culture, but live faithfully in the culture that was the issue and that's why I wrote the book entitled the church in Babel and to help us navigate that, would you consider becoming an endurance partner that someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts to get these messages to as many people as possible. Go to RTW offer.com when you're there, click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337 for now, let us listen and learn from the past and help us all. God has we continue to navigate the future 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 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.

It 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 our culture 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 of you know the Bible tells us that Israel was in the land of course. And then what happened is when to Babel and specifically due to at last we're going to talk about the church in Babel 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 Babel and 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 Babel and dad and took people back to Babel. 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 Babel 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 Babel and they have walked about 600 miles Babel and is where Iraq is today and that the city of Babel 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 naked 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 worship 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 Babel and in the Babylonians worship all kinds of God, including Ishtar, the goddess of fertility. The gods of Babel and know nothing about the 10 Commandments, the gods of Babel 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 Babel 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 us 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 Babel and without a song. Now Jeremiah doesn't go to Babel 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 Babel 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 Babel and 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 your real fast because God wouldn't put up with us here in Babel 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 them 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 not decrease God says what you ought to do when you are there in Babel and 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 Babel 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. 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 and 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 Babel 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 that's going 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'll 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 alignment 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 Portland 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 Babel 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. future 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, their areas of the 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 but if 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 but 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 Babel 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.

This is has to lose if you're hurting today, I want to have a word many of you are going through a very difficult time you're experiencing grief you're experiencing a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. Perhaps you're out of work. Perhaps you have a divorce or a marriage that is gone bad and you say to yourself, where is God in the midst of this Jeremiah the prophet would say that indeed God is able to redeem your story. He redeemed Israel out of captivity and God is there for you as well. I always want to give you hope because the Bible gives us hope your particular situation did not catch God off guard.

He is there he is able to restore I have in my hands a letter from someone who said the Lord used Moody church and pastor Luther in my life to see how he is redeeming my story so that I can share it with others. The beginning of the letter explains that I grew up in a home with domestic violence and that may be true today of some who are listening to this broadcast, God is there to redeem your story and running to win exists to help people to see that to know that our greatest need is always for God understanding his mercy, his grace the way in which he reaches down and touches our hearts. Would you consider helping us get this ministry to even more people.

Here's what you can do. You could become an endurance partner that someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision now. You need more info. Here's what you can do. Go to RT W offer.com.

Of course, RTW offers all one word RTW offer.com when you're there, click on the endurance partner button or if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 I'm going to be repeating this info again because I believe that the Lord is laying it upon many hearts to help us join hands with us in this ministry of running to win. Go to RTW offer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614.

Once Christians were a dominant force in American culture, that day is no more. How do we live is a minority in a now pagan culture. Next time more surprising answers from Jeremiah chapter 29. Thanks for listening, Dr. Erwin Luzerne this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody church


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