We have seen lots of cultural revolutions in this country, but now the foundations of this country are being razed. And part of that foundation is simply God. At least God was mentioned and a certain amount of the moral underpinnings of this country came from that source. And that is being eliminated.
We live in an increasingly difficult environment and as followers of Christ we need a perspective to help us deal with the real world. We need a clear vision of how God views and feels about us because it will be important to the mental and spiritual development we will need in the days ahead.
First, we need to visit the history of ancient Israel and God’s words to them through His prophets. The Kingdom of Judah was defeated, and many people were transported to the Kingdom of Babylon. God told them that they were going to remain there for 70 years.
Notice God’s attitude to these people who made Him angry, who would not listen to anything He said through the prophets for 23 years:
“Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and 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. And 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” (Jeremiah 29:5–7).
“For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:10–11).
To give you a future and a hope. This attitude is coming from a Being that has just been angry, expressed His wrath, and drove them into captivity. This is the mind of God. As we look at the world in which we live there are many circumstances that are going to happen that will be extremely negative. But, there’s nothing that’s happening on the face of this earth that’s not without God’s knowledge. We need to understand that if it appears fierce and angry at times, God’s intent will always be to give a future and a hope.
That future and hope for us begins with God’s covenant with Abraham; it is the basis of our covenant with God at our baptism. These covenants are not new, different, separate covenants. They all build on the original covenant that God made. Romans 4:1-25 brings Christ into the picture. We are to have faith in Christ, in His sacrifice. That faith then translates into belief. It’s a frame of mind; it’s a way of living. Belief, then, becomes obedience.
We have Abraham and Sarah’s example of belief and obedience: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:8–10).
“By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:11–13).
“. . . now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).
This is how God views us. He wants us to be with Him. He wants us to believe Him. He wants to bestow on us His promises that He promised us at baptism:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel (symbolic of God’s people) after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:10-12).
He is building and strengthening. He is allowing us to know the covenant in a deeply, intensely spiritual, personal way. By putting His laws in our hearts and minds, He is opening an understanding of the intent and application of His law. It’s not just something we hang on the wall or put on a magnet on our refrigerator. This is the covenant, that we will have God’s promises located deep in our hearts and minds.
Some people think we don’t need the law so they throw the law out. That’s not what’s being discussed here. What it means is that the law of God is raised onto a completely new and different level. Instead of a tutor standing there telling you do this and do that, you hear the law now, coming from your heart.
Paul stated that “[God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).
So, “. . . before faith came, we were kept under guard by the (letter of) law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be [declared righteous] by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:23-29). Belief, then obedience. Transforming our nature into Christ’s nature and character.
Our embrace of Christ and His sacrifice lifts us from the rigid letter of the law obedience onto a much greater plane, sons of God through faith in Christ. This is how we gain a perspective for dealing with the real world. We need to believe how God views us, His people:
“‘As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. . . . This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another'” (John 15:9–17).
However, the broader picture is God’s view of the potential for all people.
“But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to you, ‘. . . I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand'” (Isaiah 41:18-10).
“Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants— Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant— Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer, . . . For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, ‘Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him.'”
However, by faith we do not look to the rebuilding of the physical temple. Christ made it possible for us to worship God in spirit and truth. It is possible to see something that is non-physical and to see it as far more important than that which is physical.
“. . . the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
We are the temple of God. We are the temple being built: “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
Christ explained: “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:20-21).
True believers in Christ who obey God’s commandments are called friends of God just as surely as Abraham was called a friend of God. God’s intent is very clear. He intends for all of humanity to become His friends. It’s a relationship statement that is made. We are His friends now if we believe and act on those beliefs as Abraham did.
We do not know exactly what is coming. We can’t look ahead and know exactly everything that is going to befall us. But we do know that we need a constant perspective of where God’s mind is and how important each one of us is to Him and the plan that He’s working out.
One thing that we need to keep in mind, as we go forward in the days ahead of us is: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
We need to understand this as a very personal application. Let’s be strengthened by the belief that as Abraham was a friend of God so we are God’s friends through Jesus Christ, and we have a future and a hope.