Saturday, August 15

He builds injustice into its walls

Scripture: 2 Kings 24, Jeremiah 22, Psalm 112, John 18

Jeremiah 22:13 And the Lord says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim, who builds his palace with forced labor. He builds injustice into its walls, for he makes his neighbors work for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor.

Jeremiah 22:16–17 He (King Josiah) gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the Lord. 17 “But you! You have eyes only for greed and dishonesty! You murder the innocent, oppress the poor, and reign ruthlessly.”

Observation

Jeremiah pronounced the Lord’s judgment on King Jehoiakim.  While Jeremiah had consistently announced judgment on Judah’s idolatry, in this prophecy he focused on social injustice.  Specifically, Jehoiakim had used slave labor to build his palace.  “He builds injustice into its walls.”  (This phrase made me think of the White House and the US Capitol building, both built with slave labor.  It made me wonder about the lingering effects of our history of social injustice—a history many of us would rather forget.)

Jeremiah contrasts Jehoiakim’s injustice with King Josiah, who “gave justice and help to the poor and needy.”  And then adds this remarkable statement: “Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the Lord.  Knowing the Lord should result in love for our fellow human beings, and a desire to give justice and help the poor and needy.  Love for God should issue in practical love for people.  (Politically, Christians may differ about the best policies to achieve justice and help for the poor.  But if we just don’t care…well, then we don’t know the Lord as we should.)

Application 

Simple: be someone who loves God and loves people and works for justice.  Be someone who helps the poor and needy.  Do what you can to make a positive difference for others.

Prayer: Lord, help us to have Your heart for people, Your desire for justice, and give us the courage to act.