Track 1: A Future with Hope
The Prophet Jeremiah was experiencing turbulent times:
At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him. (Jeremiah 32:2-3)
The future did not look bright. Jerusalem would be destroyed and a remnant would be carried off to captivity in Babylon. How could anyone be optimistic about the future of Judah? But God spoke to Jeremiah:
Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came to me: Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.” Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. (Jeremiah 32:6-8)
Jeremiah went to great length to protect his purchase:
I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land. (Jeremiah 32:11-15)
God told Jeremiah that, even though he was seeing destruction all around him, he would have a future. Jerusalem would have a future. God was going to protect Jeremiah through all of it. The psalmist wrote:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
He shall say to the Lord,
“You are my refuge and my stronghold,
my God in whom I put my trust.”
You shall not be afraid of any terror by night,
nor of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the plague that stalks in the darkness,
nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
Because he is bound to me in love,
therefore will I deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my Name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I am with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and bring him to honor.
With long life will I satisfy him,
and show him my salvation. (:1-2,5-6, 14-16)
When we are bound to God in love, He will protect us from all harm. God is our shelter, He is our refuge and stronghold, in whom I put my trust.
Times are difficult now for many of us. But our future is bright when we put our trust in him
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. (Jeremiah 29:11-12)
Track 2: The Rich Man and Lazarus
God spoke through the Prophet Amos:
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria.
Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David improvise on instruments of music;
who drink wine from bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! (Amos 6:1,4-6)
It was not just that certain people were rich. They did not care about the welfare of others, Jesus told a parable to illustrate this point:
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ (Luke 16:19-26)
The rich man did not care about Lazarus. He did nothing to help him, although he was well aware of this poor man’s condition. The price the rich man paid was very high. He was now in Hades. He called out for some relief from his suffering. No relief was possible. So be began to think of others:
He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers– that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” (Luke 16:27-31)
When Jesus rose from the dead, did all Jerusalem repent? No. The minds and hearts of the people had been so warped by false teaching. False piety. Even when there was hope that things could improve for their great benefit, they were stuck in a world that the rulers said was better. They lied and they knew they lied, but they did not want to lose control. The psalmist wrote:
Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth,
for there is no help in them.
When they breathe their last, they return to earth,
and in that day their thoughts perish.
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,
and food to those who hunger.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous;
the Lord cares for the stranger;
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked. (Psalm 146:4-8)
Which of the two worlds do we want to believe in? Which of the two worlds do we want to live in? One is very controlled, but oppressive. We must create our own happiness in some way, even when what we do has little thought about the feelings and needs of others.
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:
Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
Then there is the other world, a happy one. Again: “Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”
We have a Savior who died, but who rose from the dead and made all things new. Do we believe in this world? Do we want to live in this world? In this world we feel the love of God so strongly that we want to share his love with everyone
Of course, the enemies of Christ want to drag us back into their dark world. One of the primary ways is through financial wealth. Wealth is not necessarily bad. It may come on its own. Paul writes Timothy?
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
If we are missing something in our hearts, Go0d will fill them with his love and presence. We do not need to seek anything but him. Nothing else will ever satisfy us except him. All we need to do is turn to him.
When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)