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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; 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 NKJV).
We have all watched the growing disunity, rioting, racial tension, and violence across the United States of America; and we ask ourselves how the church should respond in times of violence in our cities.
How the Church Should Respond In Times Of Violence
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 council God said:
“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.’ And the LORD said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know’” (Genesis 18:17-21 NKJV).
The level of authority over cities delegated to Abraham is revealed in his conversation with the Lord about Sodom and Gomorrah.
“And Abraham came near and said, ‘Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were 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 as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right’?” (Genesis 18:23-25 NKJV)
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 seems to be pleased that he is graciously standing between the city and God crying out for mercy.
When it is clear the level of wickedness has reached such severity, 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 (Exodus 32:1-18).
The sin of the Israelis had become so severe 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 wellbeing of their city.
“For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake 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; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:1, 6,7 NKJV).
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 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.
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 twelve disciples into ministry He gave them authority to bless the cities where they ministered and to speak judgment on those cities.
“Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:11-15 NKJV).
The Lord Jesus gave the same authority to the seventy new disciples Jesus sent into ministry.
“Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city” (Luke 10:8-12 NKJV).
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.
One man earnestly prayed and impacted an entire nation. How much more when hundred, even thousands, of faithful men and women of God stand against the powers of darkness and cry out for righteousness to be exalted in their city?
The Lord Jesus Christ has given to His church the keys of the Kingdom.
Through prayer we can bind the forces of darkness that are fomenting hate and bigotry resulting in rioting, looting and violence.
We can lose the Holy Spirit to bring spiritual awaking and transformation upon our cities.
You have that authority. It has been placed in the hands of the Church.
We must embrace the promise and the responsibility to earnestly pray for our city and say to the Lord of the Harvest, “Not on my watch will our city be torn apart by racial tension, crime and violence.”
As the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, the powers of darkness will not steal, kill and destroy in our city. We will give God no rest until He pours out righteousness and Holy Spirit awakening upon our city.
NOT ON MY WATCH will I sit by and let Satan destroy my city and my nation.
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