2 Timothy 2:1-24
Part of our responsibility as believing Christians is to honor God in
everything we do, which includes protecting creation from harm.
Unfortunately, for the most part, Christians have failed to do both.
So as we look at todayís scripture verses, letís also think about how we can apply these teachings to our present day lives.
In our previous discussions about the book of Jeremiah, we saw that he had told the people that because they had not listened to the Lord and instead had gone in their own worldly ways, which is another way of saying that they did not honor God, they were being punished by being exiled to Babylon, and that they should not fight against the king of Babylon but go peacefully.
But like all people who rebel against the Lord, they didnít listen, and were taken captive and led away to Babylon.
Letís now take a look at Jeremiah 29:1-14 and at the letter he sent to the exiles.
1. Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent
from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the
prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from
Jerusalem to Babylon.
2. (This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the court officials, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.)
This letter was sent sometime following the downfall of Judah in 597 B.C., but the exact date is not known.
3. The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and
Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying,
4. "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon,
5. 'Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce.
Note carefully that God is telling the people to eat the produce, with no
mention of any animal being used for food, just as we should be doing today.
The Lord wants them to honor God even in their captivity, because if they do, it will also prosper them and one day lead them back to Jerusalem.
6. 'Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives
for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons
and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease.
7. 'And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.'
This is important to our understanding of how the way we honor God in the
perfection of His creation and heavenly will also leads to prosperity for
the community around us, as well as ourselves.
As an example, if we are protecting creation, the animals, and their habitat, it is available for us and future generations of both animals and humans to enjoy to the glory of God.
8. "For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Do not let your
prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not
listen to the dreams which they dream.
9. 'For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,' declares the LORD.
This is still happening today!
We hear pastors and church members say God gave us dominion over the earth, which gives us permission to do anything we want to the environment and the animals; this is exactly the opposite of honoring God by protecting creation from harm.
We also hear them say that God wants us to kill and eat animals, which is totally opposed to Godís creation intent or heavenly will, for there was no death in Eden before the Fall, and there is no death or suffering in heaven; and we should not forget that Jesus taught us to pray for Godís heavenly will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
10. "For thus says the LORD, 'When seventy years have been completed for
Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back
to this place.
11. 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
12. 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13. 'And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
14. 'And I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD,' and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'
Because most people are not protecting creation from harm, but are helping
to send creation into chaos, we are in essence exiling ourselves from the
good world that God created for us and the animals to enjoy.
So, if we fail to repent of our evil and selfish ways, it may soon become too late for God to restore the good things to us, as He did when He brought the people back to Jerusalem.
Letís now take a look at Luke 17:11-19.
11. And it came about while He [Jesus] was on the way to Jerusalem, that He
was passing between Samaria and Galilee.
12. And as He entered a certain village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him;
These men represent all that has been corrupted in the world, and the plagues that befall us because of it.
13. and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
We know for certain that all the animals and many people are also crying out to the Lord for Him to have mercy on us and end our suffering, just as these men were doing.
14. And when He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the
priests." And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed.
15. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice,
16. and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.
17. And Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine ó where are they?
18. "Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?"
19. And He said to him, "Rise, and go your way; your faith has made you well."
This one Samaritan man represents the remnant of the people who are truly
honoring God and protecting creation from harm.
And Jesusí example of this man being a foreigner is an example of the problems within the religious community, for the ones who are truly honoring God are, for the most part, not in the churches.
With this in mind, letís go on and take a look at 2 Timothy 2:1-26.
1. You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And this happens when we are living in the heavenly will of God, just as Jesus taught us to live.
2. And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many
witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others
3. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
More and more we are seeing these hardships occurring because of the continued destruction of Godís beautiful creation, resulting in an increase in disasters and pollution; and from the killing and eating of billions of animals, resulting in most of our chronic diseases.
4. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
And letís not forget that we have been enlisted as ambassadors of Christ by our heavenly Father.
5. And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize
unless he competes according to the rules.
6. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.
And because of the weather extremes caused by global warming, many crops are
failing, and farmed animals are dying.
We are to be protecting creation from harm.
7. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in
8. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,
9. for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.
Paul was being persecuted in a physical prison, but most of the people in this world are willingly imprisoning themselves in the evil and corrupt ways of this world with all its pain, suffering, and bloodshed.
10. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are
chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and
with it eternal glory.
11. It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him;
12. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
13. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.
The choice is ours.
Are we going to be part of the solution by protecting creation, or are we going to be part of the problem by continuing to corrupt creation though our selfish lifestyles?
14. Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of
God not to wrangle about words, which is useless, and leads to the ruin of
15. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
16. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,
17. and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
18. men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some.
These men are examples of the people who are corrupting the world around us.
They distort the truth to mislead others in their evil ways.
So Paul goes on and explains how we are to be living.
19. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness."
And wickedness included participating in the things that continue to corrupt the world and add to its pain and suffering.
20. Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but
also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to
21. Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
This is honoring God.
22. Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and
peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
23. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
24. And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
25. with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
26. and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
If we are the Lordís bond-servants, we will be kind to all: all of our
fellow human beings, and all the other animals.
There should be no exceptions.
This is how we honor God.
This is how we should be protecting creation from harm.
This is how we change the world.
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