Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Jeremiah 22:3-5

3 This is what the Lord says: Administer justice and righteousness. Rescue the victim of robbery from his oppressor. Don’t exploit or brutalize the resident alien, the fatherless, or the widow. Don’t shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you conscientiously carry out this word, then kings sitting on David’s throne will enter through the gates of this palace riding on chariots and horses—they, their officers, and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these words, then I swear by myself—this is the Lord’s declaration—that this house will become a ruin.’”

The Original Intent

1) Who is Jeremiah addressing in these verses as he relays the Lord’s message?

Context matters significantly when studying Scripture and it keeps us “in bounds” for making follow-in right application to our lives. Studying a whole passage by considering its surroundings keeps us tied tightly to Scripture, allowing truth to shape our understanding instead of our own biases. Asking questions like who, what, why, and when helps broaden and deepen our understanding of any passage.

In order to know who Jeremiah is addressing in this passage, we must look backwards just a couple of sentences to Jeremiah 22:1-2 where we read of God sending Jeremiah to speak to the king of Judah. This king would have been a descendant of King David and sat on David’s same throne. Jeremiah was a prophet, speaking as God’s mouthpiece to God’s people; in this instance his message was directed to the reigning king of Judah.

The message also extended beyond the king of Judah to the Israelites under his rule as they were directives on what it looked like to “be” God’s people. These words were spoken to the king so he would model God’s justice and all of Judah would also walk in the Lord’s ways.

The Everyday Application

1) Who is Jeremiah addressing in these verses as he relays the Lord’s message?

Jeremiah’s message to Judah’s king on how to live in a way that reflected God’s righteousness and justice is ancient to us in the 21st century. Still, its meaning and significant implications are just as relevant to God’s people today as they were in ages past. The Word of the Lord is always relevant, enduring for eternity! (1 Peter 1:25)

God’s message through Jeremiah carries meaning for believers today where they live out being Christ’s Body in every culture in every nation and city around the world. Everywhere oppression and injustice exist, Jeremiah’s words still carry the authority of the Lord God. We are not exempt simply because we live in 2022.

How will we live out the rest of today differently because of Jeremiah’s relevant message? How will we shift the direction of our lives tomorrow? Not sure? Commit to reading just these brief verses every morning and praying for the Lord to convict and shape you as you take in His living and active words. (Hebrews 4:12)

The Original Intent

2) What does verse 3 mean?

Jeremiah began by telling the king he must administer justice and righteousness; the burden of wisely leading and shepherding God’s people fell to Judah’s king. This administration aligned not only with God’s heart, but also mirrored how King David had led God’s people. (2 Samuel 8:15)

Judah’s kings had drifted far from the pattern of righteous justice modeled by King David, and Jeremiah’s message was a clarion call to return to the ways of the Lord which He had manifested in David’s kingship. Jeremiah then instructs all Israelites to actively come to the aid of the vulnerable. In specifically calling out resident aliens, fatherless, and widows, the Lord was shining a spotlight on the weakest, neediest group of people of Judah. Israelites knew exactly how they were to treat resident aliens as God had addressed this issue centuries prior during the time of Moses in Exodus 22:21-22. 

By including this group of people in His message, the Lord emphasized how far Judah had strayed from His instructions and was calling them back to what they already knew. He reminded them to carry out righteous justice with the essential component of humility as Israel herself had once lived as resident aliens in Egypt.

Next, the Lord reminds Israel to protect the fatherless and widows, another group of often overlooked and neglected people which God had also addressed in Deuteronomy 14:29 during Moses’ leadership. God had commanded Israelites to diligently care for and give special attention to the widow and orphan.

These weren’t new commands, but they were instructions Israel had long ago disregarded and set aside. God’s deep compassion is revealed by his firm call to the king and his subjects of their duty to care for the vulnerable, ensuring that all were protected and given care.

The Everyday Application

2) What does verse 3 mean?

Just as Jeremiah’s message to administer righteous justice is relevant to us today as Christ-followers, so also are the carefully selected recipients of this protective care. Jeremiah specifically called out the weak and vulnerable in Judah, and we must consider who these groups of people are within our own cultures and cities. Here is where we are to begin our work of administering righteous justice.

It should not come as a surprise to us that these same groups are among the most vulnerable in our modern time as well. Single moms, orphans, and immigrants are among the neediest and vulnerable of our world and should be the first ones the church humbly runs toward to protect and love. Regardless of our location on the globe, I’m confident we each know someone who fits one of these categories. Our call is to refuse to exploit them or ignore reality when they are exploited or overlooked. We must not puff ourselves up and think less of them because of society’s label.

Christ calls us, just as He did to Judah’s king, to love and care for those who cannot care for themselves, for in so doing we are loving and caring for Christ. (Matthew 25:35-40) 

All over the world, people are displaced from their homes, children grow up without parents, and widows struggle in many cultures to provide for themselves. Our call toward each of these is to extend justice, act righteously, and love them with the humility of Christ. (Micah 6:8James 1:27) When we actively live out this kind of love, we are reflecting Christ’s humble, generous sacrifice when He gave His life for us.

Living with justice for the oppressed is one way we live out of the overflow of Christ’s love for us.

The Original Intent

3) What house will come to ruin in verse 5?

Jeremiah’s message was a warning of God’s coming judgment against Judah’s king and the Israelites if they chose, again, to disobey God’s command and reject His ways of justice. They would be found in ruin. Sin’s rule would continue oppressing them while they continued oppressing the weak and vulnerable, even if it was simply by ignoring that a problem existed. Sin’s gravitational pull would continue increasing until eventually they would lose everything.

This was not a quiet, casual command that was really more of an optional activity, this was a matter of life and death.

Jeremiah continued to describe their ruin in verses 6-9. If they chose to ignore the Lord’s command, Judah (and Jerusalem) would soon lie in ruins. A direct result of their choice to place something else, anything else, before the Lord would be their fall. Judah, and therefore Jerusalem, would cease to be an amazing nation and city and would be turned over to an enemy.

Graciously, God, through Jeremiah, not only provided the Israelites a choice, but He also provided a clear call to return. Life and death were in their hands, and their choice carried significant, wide-sweeping consequences.

The Everyday Application

3) What house will come to ruin in verse 5?

Just as Judah was unable to prosper if they did not heed the Lord’s call we will never prosper as the Church if we do not heed His same call to leave our sinful patterns and embrace His ways of living righteously. The Global Church is the hands and feet of God, intended to actively show love to those often seen as the least lovable, most-likely outcast, and exceptionally vulnerable. When we do not choose to take on His mission in our everyday lives as believers, our lives end up in ruin, wasted and ineffective for the Kingdom. We allow sin and conflict to gradually take the place of love in our lives and it poisons everything. (James 1:14-15)

We can never live up to our calling in Christ if we allow sin and disobedience to fester instead of humbly pouring out the love Christ has demonstrated to us. (Romans 5:8)

If I am honest with myself, I can think of people I interact with daily who fall into these categories of unlovable, outcast, and vulnerable. I must ask myself if I am heeding the call of the Lord toward each of these individuals. I challenge each of us to think carefully about those we interact with regularly, and those around us who need to be seen and loved by us; are we pouring out the same love Christ has lavished on us? (1 John 3:1)

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