We will look at a verse in Jeremiah, the context, and how we can apply it to our lives today.
14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. Jeremiah 29:14 (NKJV)
The phrase I am focusing on is the first six words, ‘I will be found by you.’ Through Jeremiah the Lord was speaking to the nation of Judah who were going into captivity in Babylon. After 70 years in captivity, they would begin to wholeheartedly seek the Lord and would encounter Him. This is the promise Daniel brought before the Lord in praying for the return to Jerusalem. That is our context.
Given that this verse what written for us rather than to us it is important to see how we apply it to our lives. In our present circumstances church attendance in Canada and the US has been on the decline for decades. During this period our culture has continued to head down the wrong road, and barring a revival or turning on a large scale, this slide will continue and likely accelerate. This is what was happening in Israel (Judah) prior to their deportation to Babylon.
Notice the statement again, ‘I will be found by you.’ Inherent in the statement is seeking. This is a principle in scripture. The Lord promises that when we genuinely seek Him we will find Him. In fact, that is what the preceding verse promises.
13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV)
Seeing the end from the beginning the Lord referenced this taking place even before Israel became a nation or had a king. While I think this prophetic word from Moses has a broader application than just the return from Babylon the principle and message are there. When we turn our hearts to Him our captivity is broken.
1 “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, 2 and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. Deuteronomy 30:1–3 (NKJV)
Applying this to our lives and situation requires that we view our situation differently. The church is not a nation like Israel that has been scattered to be regathered. We are scattered among the nations to be salt and light. However, given the state of our culture our light is dim and our salt is presently ineffective. For that to change we need to wholeheartedly seek Him. Our desire needs to be knowing Him and having Him move through us to capture hearts and minds for His kingdom. Our goal must not be a better or nicer lifestyle, a more comfortable or friendlier culture. Our goal needs to be transformation into His image so that our culture will see Jesus.
The testimony of scripture is that people were drawn to Jesus. Some were threatened by Him but most wanted to hear Him and be near Him. May we be like that so that those around us want to be near us and hear us. Let us seek Him and find Him in a deeper corporate way that others may see Him. Next week I will delve into the how of shifting culture.