Why isn’t God enslaved, so to speak, by His own omnipotence? That’s a philosophical question. But it matters. We have to be able to speak of God permitting things that in some manner He does not want or does not prefer, in order to have a world in which evil is even possible without said evil being endorsed by God. God has to allow His handiwork to resist Him without causing it to happen. It falls into the realm of miracle.
I got this email from Grassfire Nation today and I want to share it with everyone. I think it helps put some of what we are discussing in context. I certainly lifted my spirits.:
I want to share with you a letter that, although 2,500 years old, it could have been written this morning. For us. For faithful patriots who feel like they just discovered they will have to live at least the next four years in exile.
This letter was written to Jewish exiles who had been pushed out of Jerusalem and forced to live under a tyrannical ruler named Nebuchadnezzar.
The exiles wanted one thing: they wanted to be re-established back in Israel. They even had a prophet named Hananiah come to them and tell them that their time of exile would only last two years.
You can read about it in Jeremiah 28.
Hananiah was a false prophet. He died.
And so Jeremiah wrote a letter to the exiles. You've probably heard a part of that letter recited many times. It's one of the most commonly quoted passages in the entire Bible. Unfortunately, this passage is mostly taken out of its proper context and delivered as a "feel good" word that everything is going to be O.K.
One of my friends was quoting this verse yesterday morning:
Those words sound so good. The future is bright. God has a plan for prosperity, for a real hope and a real future. On the eve of the election, it must have meant a Romney win, the GOP takes the Senate and we start the rollback of the Obama regime, right?
+ + The Plan Was Exile
Here's the shocking context of Jeremiah 29 (and I offer to you, the context for November 6, 2012): the plan was exile.
That was the "plan" Jeremiah's letter was talking about. I encourage you to go read all of Jeremiah 29. Here is the immediate context:
The plan was 70 years of exile. Keep that in mind the next time someone quotes Jeremiah 29:11 to encourage you that your time of trouble will soon end. Not only was the exile going to last 70 years, the exile WAS the plan!
If you don't believe me, go back and read the beginning of the letter, from Jeremiah 29:4. Here you'll see the Lord (through Jeremiah) giving the Jewish exiles specific instructions on how to conduct themselves in exile:
--Build houses and settle down.
--Plan gardens and eat what they produce.
--Marry and have sons and daughters.
--Marry off your sons and daughters so they can have children.
--Increase in number; do not decrease.
Again, remember the context. A false prophet had just come and said the time of exile would only last two years. That prophet died. The truth is, the people will be in exile for 70 years. And the directive is to build families, grow businesses, think trans-generationally and increase.
+ + Seek the Welfare of the Land
It gets better. Because Jeremiah's letter makes it clear that building and marrying is not enough. People in exile must do something else -- they must be a blessing to the land.
So let's review. First, the plan is exile. Second, build. Third, bless. Simple, clear instructions.
But why was this important? Why a "plan" for exile with specific instructions on how to act in exile?
Historians tell us it was during the Babylonian captivity that the Israelites moved from a Temple/Jerusalem focused society to a synagogue and community focused society. Simply put ...
It was the lessons learned during their time in exile which enabled the Jews to survive 2,500 years in exile. But not just survive -- but to thrive and become the most prosperous, most successful and most innovative people group in the history of civilization.
Exile was the plan.
So that's why, today, I'm going to build. And I'm going to plant. I'm going to bless. And I'm going to pray.
For that is the final piece to the puzzle ...
"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
So let's get building. Let's get planting. And let's get praying. And let's bless this land. There are lessons to be learned in exile.
Steve Elliott, Grassfire