Buying Land in a War Zone

Good Morning All My Friends,

Here we are safe and sound back in Australia.  I want to thank all of you who prayed that we’d have safe travels and a productive trip.  You outdid yourselves with the prayer cover because not only did we get on the airplanes we needed (even flying standby), but we had extra seats given to us (that means a lot in Economy), smooth flights, no delays, no sprains or departure from realistic thinking in terms of getting on the rights trains, etc (unlike our last train trip in Thailand).

Everything went smoothly and we were able to have a lot of meetings with significant players for the 2020 Olympic Games Evangelical outreach.

Now the ball is in the hands of the Japanese. Tony gave them an 11-page report accompanied by a step-by-step proposal; and now we trust them to move forward.  Whether we will continue to be involved is pretty much up to them and of course everyone’s budgets. We can put the outcome in His hands and settle back, at least until next week when we have a Really Big Japanese conference in Sydney.  Hopefully I can tell you about that next time.

I was also able to get a few more stories to add to my “Faithfulness of God” Series, but even better than that, I came to understand a few things about myself on a deeper level.  Believe me, at our age, understanding yourself better is always a good thing!

Last Sunday, we visited the large downtown church in the Ginza district of Tokyo.  It was founded in 1890 and had the pipe organ to prove it. What a delight to be ushered in to the last two available seats in the house.  It was also encouraging to see people of all ages, truly happy to be there and singing from their hearts out of the hymnal.  We joined right in.

Then they made the announcement that the one person we specifically came to see (the pastor) was out of town and the stand-in would be preaching out of Jeremiah.  (I inwardly groaned as our ability to understand Japanese is often limited to conversations, lighter passages in the Bible and maybe TV, but not so much the deeper teachings of the Old Testament).

If that weren’t bad enough, I glanced down and noticed that the fill-in pastor was none other than Kondo Sensei, Professor Emeritus from one of the more prestigious seminaries in Japan.

“I’m toast,” I thought as I rolled my eyes at Tony and tried to settle back on the hard pew.

Well…..what this man, Reverend Kondo had to say, was not only clear and easy to understand, but quite possibly changed a lot about how Tony and I have always seen our roles in this world.

His text was Jeremiah 32:6-25. I’ll paraphrase it for you if you don’t have your Bible handy. The prophet Jeremiah, you’ll remember, had been preaching doom and gloom to the Israelites for a long time.  By now, I’m guessing he’s beginning to believe it himself.  The siege ramps are going up and the Babylonians are on the doorstep about to attack.

But the Lord tells Jeremiah in verse 6 that his cousin is going to offer to sell him some land and that he should buy it. Keep in mind that the Babylonians are right outside the door, and so far they’ve never been defeated.  The city’s about to fall.

But in verse 8 Jeremiah says, “I knew that this was the Word of the Lord, so I bought the field.  I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed and weighed out the silver on the scales (v11). I took the deed of purchase, the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy (vs14). This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:  Take these documents, both the sealed and the unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so that they will last a long time.”

By the way, in 2005, archeologists in Jerusalem uncovered what was called the “House of the Bullae”, a storeroom for such documents. So far, they have uncovered and identified 51 jars like the Book of Jeremiah describes. And although the one belonging to the prophet himself has not turned up yet, the seals indicate that they were buried there at about the same time.

The next several verses are Jeremiah’s praise of God and all that He has done, but then the prophet ends up with a query of sorts. Vs 25.  “And though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, You, O sovereign Lord, say to me, ‘Buy a field with silver and have the transaction witnessed’. Who says the Old Testament prophets weren’t candid with God?

I think I would have had the same response. Why on earth would I buy a field when it’s in a war zone, during a war that You Yourself said we’re going to lose?

But Pastor Kondo continued on to read the rest of the story. Vs 37, God speaks of his love for Israel.  “I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banished them in my furious anger, and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.  They will be my people, and I will be their God.  I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and for the good of their children after them”

I realize this passage is for the Israelites, but because of Christ, I think we can include the Japanese in this promise.

And then it hit me.  We are the messengers today of God’s promises.  We went to Japan 40 years ago along with countless others who were carrying God’s love and promise of salvation for generations before us. We all “bought the field” when it didn’t seem to make sense. Satan had claimed this land as his own, and we were essentially going into a spiritual war zone. Our “purchase” was witnessed by you, who prayed for us and supported us for so many years. The deed of sale was sealed up in a clay pot: that is, the clay vessels that we are.

To all who look at Japan, it still pretty much looks like enemy territory. I didn’t see much improvement this last week in the ‘lostness’ of the people; and it made me cry all over again.

BUT GOD KNOWS what He’s doing, and He’s telling us not to give up on the people He loves……

Now I can really understand why I always feel a pull to Japan; why when we go back to visit, I feel that satisfaction of being “home”. I think I finally realize that this feeling is kept strong because of that “senseless” investment God asked us to make.

I believe with every fiber of my being that this purchase will not be wasted. I know that someday, if the Lord tarries, our physical bodies will also be placed in another kind of clay urn and placed in the little church where our son lies.…….in the land God is keeping in His heart.  Hopefully, maybe even before our contract is up, God WILL restore Japan to Christ. Until that time, we just pray for those who remain in harm’s way, bound and kept by a defeated enemy until the time when he is banished for good.

Have a great week.  It’s good to be back in the saddle here.


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