GOD’S HOLY NATION
Heavenly Father, help me to seek your kingdom and righteousness today. Help me to represent your kingdom in ways that draw others to you.
Read JEREMIAH 22
Judgment Against Wicked Kings
22 This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: 2 ‘Hear the word of the Lord to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. 3 This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’”
6 For this is what the Lord says about the palace of the king of Judah:
“Though you are like Gilead to me,
like the summit of Lebanon,
I will surely make you like a wasteland,
like towns not inhabited.
7 I will send destroyers against you,
each man with his weapons,
and they will cut up your fine cedar beams
and throw them into the fire.
8 “People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?’ 9 And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’”
10 Do not weep for the dead king or mourn his loss;
rather, weep bitterly for him who is exiled,
because he will never return
nor see his native land again.
11 For this is what the Lord says about Shallum[a] son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah but has gone from this place: “He will never return. 12 He will die in the place where they have led him captive; he will not see this land again.”
13 “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness,
his upper rooms by injustice,
making his own people work for nothing,
not paying them for their labor.
14 He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace
with spacious upper rooms.’
So he makes large windows in it,
panels it with cedar
and decorates it in red.
15 “Does it make you a king
to have more and more cedar?
Did not your father have food and drink?
He did what was right and just,
so all went well with him.
16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?”
declares the Lord.
17 “But your eyes and your heart
are set only on dishonest gain,
on shedding innocent blood
and on oppression and extortion.”
18 Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:
“They will not mourn for him:
‘Alas, my brother! Alas, my sister!’
They will not mourn for him:
‘Alas, my master! Alas, his splendor!’
19 He will have the burial of a donkey—
dragged away and thrown
outside the gates of Jerusalem.”
20 “Go up to Lebanon and cry out,
let your voice be heard in Bashan,
cry out from Abarim,
for all your allies are crushed.
21 I warned you when you felt secure,
but you said, ‘I will not listen!’
This has been your way from your youth;
you have not obeyed me.
22 The wind will drive all your shepherds away,
and your allies will go into exile.
Then you will be ashamed and disgraced
because of all your wickedness.
23 You who live in ‘Lebanon,[b]’
who are nestled in cedar buildings,
how you will groan when pangs come upon you,
pain like that of a woman in labor!
24 “As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “even if you, Jehoiachin[c] son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 25 I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians.[d] 26 I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. 27 You will never come back to the land you long to return to.”
28 Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot,
an object no one wants?
Why will he and his children be hurled out,
cast into a land they do not know?
29 O land, land, land,
hear the word of the Lord!
30 This is what the Lord says:
“Record this man as if childless,
a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring will prosper,
none will sit on the throne of David
or rule anymore in Judah.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat are factors that inhibit justice in modern nation states?
Since the beginning of our history, humankind has organized itself into nations. Israel was special in the ancient world because (albeit rather on and off) it acknowledged the headship of the one true God. In many other ways, it was just one people among many. It is worth exploring whether we can find out God’s ideas about how a proper nation should function: what is the point of these ‘nation’ entities?
Apparently, at the very heart of the purpose of a nation is the establishment and pursuit of justice. It was originally against the Lord’s advice that the Israelites chose to have a king (1 Samuel 8), but sometimes he is gracious enough to go along with our wishes and make the best of our less-than-ideal arrangements. Here, God seems willing to allow the rich and privileged to swagger in and out of the gates (v 2), presumably in the ancient equivalent of a Rolls-Royce, and to live in some sort of pre-Christian Beverly Hills (v 14)—so long as they take responsibility for administering justice, in particular to the powerless and the poor (v 3). According to Jeremiah, to be a true king is synonymous with knowing God: such a ruler will care first about justice and caring for the poor. Modern national leaders might want to take note of what happens to those who override this divine principle (vs 13-30).
Where can you ‘do justice,’ especially for those listed in verse 3, who are no less numerous today.
Gracious God, thank you for the freedom I enjoy. Help me to be sensitive and responsive to the needs for grace and mercy that surround me. Help me to use my freedom to bring you glory.
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