God's Love for Our Cities, Part 1 - Bob Sawvelle

God’s Love for Our Cities, Part 1

In this hour, some are prophesying judgment on cities and nations. But to the contrary, God declares blessing. Yes, there are consequences to individual and corporate sin, but God desires foremost to extend mercy and grace to humanity through Jesus.

As I begin this series, let me establish some foundational principles of the New Covenant which are ours through faith in Jesus. I will then examine principles with Israel from the Old Covenant that are still applicable today in our New Covenant age of grace.

God Loves Humanity

He sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to earth to reconcile and redeem us to Himself. God loves people—everyone.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV

Paul wrote how God died for us, even when we were wayward from Him,

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8 NKJV

Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. Every act of love, compassion, and healing expressed through Jesus revealed Father God’s tender mercy toward humanity. Now, through God’s people, His Church, where Jesus is the head, God is still revealing His tender mercies toward humanity.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Why? They rejected God’s prophets and now they were rejecting Him—their redeemer and healer. Again, His desire was to draw Israel to Him, to receive of His mercy and grace.

God the Father, through Jesus, desires to draw each person to Himself to be saved from the ravages of sin and the evil of a fallen world.

Peter declared,

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet. 3:9 NKJV

God’s heart of love, mercy, and compassion is that none would reject Jesus, the Savior of the world. He loves people, and therefore He loves cities and nations where people live.

Corporately, the body of Christ is responsible to adhere to God’s commands and steward His grace to impact our world. But it begins with everyone choosing to wholeheartedly follow Christ. Individual revival proceeds corporate revival.

In this age of grace, God is reconciling the world to Himself.

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:19 NIV

This does not mean there are no consequences to sin on individuals, cities, or nations. Persistent rebellion toward God and His ways permits the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came to give life and give it to humanity abundantly—but we must choose Him. Jesus loved sinners, the broken, the wayward and He still loves everyone today!

Charge Against Israel

The nation of Israel was divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Israel had grown apostate, and God raised up the prophet Hosea and others to declare that judgment would befall them if they did not repent of their sinful ways and return to God. Eventually, because of their persistent disobedience to God’s laws and covenant, they were overrun by the Assyrians in 722 BC.

Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel! The Lord has brought charges against you, saying: “There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere—one murder after another. That is why your land is in mourning, and everyone is wasting away. Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea are disappearing.” Hosea 4:1-3 NLT

Keep in mind that Israel was under the Old Covenant; we are in the New Covenant. Yet, through the book of Hosea, we read how God through His prophet declared He would not utterly abandon Israel and would come to her—a reference of the coming of Jesus, her Messiah. God is a loving, long suffering, merciful Father who loves people and extends grace.

20th Century Pastor and Theologian J. Vernon McGee writes of this passage in Hosea,

The church today is not under the Ten Commandments as the way of salvation or the way to live the Christian life, but that does not mean that we can break the commandments; it simply means that He has called us to a higher plane of living and has enabled us so to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, since through the Ten Commandments God expresses His will, they are a pattern for the laws of every nation. The nation Israel, which He chose and dealt with, furnishes a pattern to the other nations of the world.” [1]

Hosea declares that in Israel there was “… no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God (intimate relationship) in your land …” killing, stealing, adultery, violence, one murder after another … “that is why your land is mourning.”

What does this mean, the land will mourn? When people persist in rebellion toward God, others suffer. Society and all of humanity suffers the consequences of individual and societal sin. Eventually, even the land itself can suffer, i.e., wildlife, pollution, low crop yields, pests, etc. can overrun the land.

Land related issues are important to God. For example, the Israelites broke Sabbath of the Land, and eventually the remnants of the southern kingdom were sent to Babylon in 586BC. Ezekiel was led away with the captives and was instructed to do a prophetic act signifying their sin, of both the northern and southern kingdom, of this reality:

Lie also on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their iniquity. For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year.” Ezek. 4:4-6 NKJV

For 430 years (390 Israel, 40 Judah) God’s people refused to keep sabbaticals and Jubilees. The land was kept from its rest during the 70 Sabbath years during this period. God then allowed the land to rest 70 years while they were led into Babylonian captivity.

Hosea wrote nearly 140 years earlier, that My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me (intimate relationship to God).” Hosea 4:6 NLT

The Priests and Israelites lost focus on their relationship to God and God’s Word. Hence, they lost focus on their relationship to society and the land. Sin not only affects people, but the land, and those who dwell there.

In Genesis, we read of how Cain murdered his brother Abel. God confronts Him, And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” Gen. 4:10 NKJV

When Cain slew his brother, where did Abel’s blood cry out from? From the ground (the land). What did it cry out for? Justice!

God is calling us to be accountable to where He has called or placed us. Only when we accept this accountability can we see the vision and purpose for our lives fully unfold.

In the early nineties, the Lord challenged me while living in Haiti as a missionary, “Bob, would you stay here the next 20 years?” This encounter led me to a new understanding of obedience to God’s will and commitment to the geographic place He puts us in. Eventually, God directed us to leave Haiti, but I learned much about saying yes to God and His heart for people everywhere.

Many years later, we arrived in Tucson. Soon after, God instructed me: “Tucson is your new mission field.” I knew based on His Word and what I had experienced in Haiti, that God was asking us to make a long-term commitment here. We said yes, and planted our church with no outside help, just sheer love and obedience to the Lord and His leading. After we said yes to God, soon after, we drove past a cemetery, and I heard the Lord say to me, “You will be laid to rest here in Tucson!”

In Psalms we read, The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s; But the earth He has given (assigned) to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16 NKJV) God didn’t give away ownership of the earth, but He did assign mankind the responsibility of governing it.

God “assigns” us to cities and nations to co-labor with Him to make these places an “oasis of hope.”

The fate of cities and nations rests in the hands of the righteous. He is looking to us, His bride, to change the spiritual climate. Society benefits. Revival is not totally sovereign!

We are to love God, worship Him foremost. From our love relationship with Him as beloved children of God, we then steward our cities with His love, grace, and power.

Next week, I’ll continue this important subject!


Bob Sawvelle Signature


For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “God’s Love for Our Cities, Part 1”

[1] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: The Prophets (Hosea/Joel), electronic ed., vol. 27 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 51.

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