God’s message through Jeremiah to the children of Israel who were refugees in Babylon is very relevant today.
“Build houses and dwell in them; and 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, so that you may increase there, and not diminish. 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” (Jer. 29:5-7 MEV).
We have all watched the growing disunity, rioting, racial tension and violence across the United States of America.
Violence does not have to define your city.
Multiple times in the holy Scripture God demonstrated the level of authority He has given His sons and daughters in praying for peace and safety for the city where they live.
When Sodom and Gomorrah was filled with moral impurity and violence at a level that could no longer be endured God said, “‘Should I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him? I chose him, and he will instruct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He promised him.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has come to Me. If not, I will know'” (Gen. 18:17-21, MEV).
The level of authority over cities delegated to Abraham is revealed in his conversation with the Lord about Sodom and Gomorrah.
“Then Abraham drew near and said, ‘Shall You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous in the city? Shall You also destroy, and not spare the place, for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be treated as the wicked; far be it from You. Should not the Judge of all the earth do right?'” (Gen. 18:23-25 MEV)?
As the conversation between Abraham and the Lord continues it is Abraham dictating the terms by which the city will be destroyed.
God is not angry with the boldness of His servant; rather, He seems to be pleased that Abraham is graciously standing between the city and God, and crying out for mercy.
When it is clear the level of wickedness has reached such severity that ten righteous people could not be found, judgment was inevitable.
There is a similar conversation between Moses and God when the Children of Israel rebelled against God in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land (Ex. 32:1-18).
The sin of the Israelis had become so severe that God was prepared to destroy them. Moses immediately began interceding on their behalf.
His authority was great and God said, “I have seen this people and indeed it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore, let Me alone …” But Moses continued to plead for the people and God responded with grace and mercy.
Isaiah 62 clearly portrays the authority God has given to His people and the role He wants them to take in the well-being of their city. “For the sake of Zion I will not keep silent, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burns … I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day nor night. You who remind the Lord, do not keep silent; give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a glory in the earth” (Is. 62:1, 6-7, MEV).
This level of prayer and intercession causes righteousness to be exalted in the city.
The light and goodness of the city is revealed to the unbeliever as well as the believer.
The city will be productive economically, providing businesses and career opportunities for the youth and will be a great place to raise a family. It will no longer be forsaken by the young people seeking better places to live.
The life-giving ministry of the church flourishes and clear avenues are made for the lost to come to salvation.
When Jesus Christ sent the original 12 disciples into ministry, He gave them authority to bless the cities where they ministered and to speak judgment on those cities. “In whatever city or town you enter, inquire in it who is worthy. And live there until you leave. When you come into a house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town” (Matt. 10:11-15, MEV).
The Lord Jesus gave the same authority to the 70 new disciples Jesus sent into ministry. “When you enter a city and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a city and they do not receive you, go your way out into their streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to us, we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But I say to you, it will be more tolerable on that Day for Sodom than for that city” (Luke 10:8-12, MEV).
It is time for every born again believer to rise up and say: Not on my watch. I will not allow my city to erupt into violence, hatred and bigotry. I will not allow crime to flourish and destroy my city.
If every gospel-preaching church would take seriously the authority they have in prayer, the entire climate of the USA would change.
James 5:16-18 gives assurance the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.