“Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.” (Jeremiah 29:5-6)
How are the Children of God to live in this wicked and evil world?
A world full of rebellion to God; full of prejudice and hate for those not like us. A world whose philosophy is lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. A world whose energy is spent in fulfilling:
“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” (Ephesians 2:2)
“Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Ephesians 2:3)
In our text verses, Jeremiah is explaining to those of the Nation of Israel, the ones who were carried off to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (around 587 B.C.), how they were to live in a foreign and strange land.
Babylon was a pagan city, full of idolatry; a place where God (Jehovah) was not known. Thus, none of His laws were practiced in holiness and honor to Him. Here there was no Temple, no Aaronic Priesthood, no temple sacrifices, etc. Here they were not citizens, with citizen status; but they were servants, in captivity for seventy years, according to the Word of God.
But strangely, the ones of Israel that were carried to Babylon in the first deportation by Nebuchadnezzar were the royal family, princes, and officers; the mighty men of valor; the craftsmen and the smiths (2 Kings 24:12-14). What Nebuchadnezzar left in Jerusalem in his first deportation was described as, “…none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land” (2 Kings 24:14c). But those taken to Babylon were not made to serve as slaves. Because they had surrendered to King Nebuchadnezzar, they were allowed to carry on normal lives. The judgment was on those left in Jerusalem and on the city itself.
Jeremiah wrote a letter to those in Babylon, in the captivity, of how they were to live in a foreign and strange and wicked place. So it is for all God’s Children living in this evil and wicked world.
Jeremiah presented four principles that not only applied to the Children of Israel living in Babylonian Captivity, but also apply to the Children of God living in today’s wicked world. These four principles are:
Dedication – Give it
Duty – Do it
Determination – Keep it
Declaration – Live it
The First Principle is Dedication – “Give it.”
We must be dedicated to God above all. We must always remember that He is our “first love.” Read Revelation 2:1-7; in the letter to the Church at Ephesus, Christ tells John to write, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4).
Even though we are “in” this evil and wicked world as to our body; we are not to be part of, or in communion with, this world:
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (John 17:15; also see verse 11)
Christ prayed not that His disciples and His other sheep would be taken out of this world; but that God would “keep them from the evil” of this world.
We must be wholly dedicated, giving our body, soul, and spirit to Him. (See Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 9:24-27; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 10:3-5; Colossians 3:1-2; 1 Peter 1:14-18.)
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
Jeremiah told the people to live and work and marry while in Babylon; they were to increase and not diminish. But they were not to worship the gods of Babylon, nor to be deceived by the prophets of Babylon. They were to continue to stay dedicated to the God of Israel (verses 7-9).
Just as we, living in this wicked world today, are to live in the world, but we are not to be a part of this world. We are to be a holy people:
“… Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
The Second Principle is Duty – “Do it.”
It is our Duty to follow His Commandments; to do His Will; to be a doer of His Word; to sanctify our body and spirit.
1) We are to Love God. (See Matthew 22:37-40; Ephesians 4:22-32; 5:1-33; James 1:22; 1 John 4:7-21; 2 John 5-6.)
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
“He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:4-6)
2) We are to love the Brethren (John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:10-24).
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34)
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)
If the Love of God has been shed abroad in your heart (if you have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit; Romans 5:5); then you do follow Him and His Commands, you do not live by the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)
“And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:17)
If Christ dwells in you, you will bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit (John 15:1-16). And your fruit will not be fruit of the flesh, but fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-23).
The Third Principle is Determination – Keep it.
This principle is based on the first two principles of Dedication and Duty. Now we must be stedfast and unmoveable in our Dedication to God and our Duty to keep His Commands.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
We must determine to stay with our commitment and say as Joshua said, “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
We have been made a “new creature”:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Because we are a new man “in Christ,” we must display the characteristics of this new creature, this new man, this regenerated man:
1) He has no communion with darkness:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Corinthians 6:15)
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
“And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)
2) He is to glorify God in his body and in his spirit:
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
(Also see 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.)
3) He is to bear fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
4) He is to walk by faith (or by Christ) and not by sight; keeping the Commandments of God (1 John 2:4-6).
5) He is to bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit; and his fruit is to remain; as he abides in Christ and Christ in him (John 15:1-16).
6) He is to be a disciple and count the cost (Luke 14:26-33).
7) He is to walk in love, in the light, and circumspectly; filled with the Spirit; praising God; and in submission one to the other (Ephesians 5:1-33).
8) He is to be clothed in the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:1-18).
We are not only to display these characteristics, but we are to be consistent. We are to surrender to Him, submit to His Ways, obey His Word, and endure in the same.
The Children of God live in a physical body in this evil world. They live in the physical, even though they are strangers and pilgrims of this world, only passing through; for this world is not their eternal home. But they have to live daily in this world and are faced with the pressures of this world and all of its ups and downs.
We have considered the principles of Dedication and Duty and Determination.
So how are the Children of God to live physically, knowing and keeping the above principles?
The Fourth Principle is Declaration – Live it.
Note the text verses (Jeremiah 29:5-6):
1) “Build ye houses, and dwell in them;” (verse 5a)
2) “Plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;” (verse 5b)
3) “Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters;” (verse 6a)
4) “Take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands…” (verse 6b)
5) “That ye may be increased there, and not diminished.” (verse 6c)
What is God saying to those in Babylonians captivity?
Go on and live your individual lives in the precepts of God. Build houses, plant seed, marry, have offspring, and encourage your sons and daughters to do the same.
Do all this with a view of one day being in the Presence of God, having run this earthly race with patience and holiness and in peace (Psalms 126:1-6).
Don’t fear the men of this evil world; for God is thy protection and provision (Psalms 126:1-6). Don’t hang your harps in the willow trees, as those in captivity had first done (Psalms 137:1-4). Instead raise up your heads and be encouraged in the LORD your God, Who keepeth His Covenant and Promises in Christ; for God is the Praise and Salvation (Psalms 138:5-8).
Yes, we do and will sing “the LORD’s song” in a strange land. The new song is: He is risen, and so are we in Him. He is worthy, for “Worthy is the Lamb”:
“Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Revelation 5:12) (see verses 9-14)
He has all power in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18); and He has given us His power (Philippians 4:13, 19; 2:13); for Christ dwells in His Children (Romans 8:13-16; Galatians 2:20).
This world cannot have us; it cannot stop us; it cannot harm us. It cannot deny us the Victory in Christ; for we are Possessors of Him and His Victory (1 John 5:4). We are “overcomers” in Him. We are His Body, His Bride, even His Church.
We have not received:
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) (Read verses 8-12.)
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
“And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.” (Philippians 1:28)
Why not? Because Christ said He has all power in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18). And He has given us witness in our spirit that we are His and He is ours; that He dwells within us. Therefore we are living His Life of Power and Victory in our life (Romans 5:10, 17). Therefore, we have no fear of the enemy; for Christ is Victorious over all enemies, so “in Christ,” we are Victorious also.