Justice Demanded

Key Verse: “I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.”
—Jeremiah 22:21

Selected Scripture:
Jeremiah 22

THIS LESSON REVOLVES around justice. God specifically held the king and his servants responsible for how they governed. Of special concern to God was the administration of justice, and that, fairly to all people. We read, “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.”—Ps. 89:14

Since the time of the first king of Israel, Saul, the majority of the kings had taken advantage of the people under them, and had not applied God’s rules of fairness and equity. Jehoiakim’s reign was with injustice and violence, and God was going to deliver the nation and king into the hands of the Babylonians, in punishment.

God’s message to the king and to his servants reads, “Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.”—Jer. 22:3

None of the people were able to defend themselves and they specially needed protection from their governmental leaders. Accountability always starts with those in command—in Israel’s case, it was the king. This was not new because the first duty of the king was to keep the covenant. (Deut. 17:18-20) Taking care of the defenseless was a stipulation of the covenant.

We find that if the king would behave in a manner God spelled out in the covenant, the monarchy would continue in its grandeur; if not, this “house” would “become a desolation.”—Jer. 22:5

The people of Israel were being heavily taxed; they were forced to build the king a luxurious house. Widows’ homes were taken and the people mistreated. Money has always been sought by those in power. We read, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”—I Tim. 6:10

Jeremiah chapter twenty-two, verses thirteen through nineteen, describe in graphic language the greediness and injustice of King Jehoiakim. Jeremiah contrasted Jehoiakim’s house built on injustice with King Josiah who had protected and cared for the poor and needy, and had dealt justly with those under him. (vs. 16) Now judgment was to fall on Israel because of the unjust acts of the present reigning king.

Do we take care of those who rely on us? Do we live righteously and execute justice fairly, honestly? Or do we greedily look to ourselves to gain more wealth, taking advantage of our position? Jesus gave a lesson of a farmer who had abundance of crops. He decided to pull down his barns and build greater ones, there to bestow all his goods. God said this was foolish, because he would die and who would benefit from his greed. “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”—Luke 12:16-21

Mercy and judgment are to be kept by God’s people in all their ways. “Keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.” (Hos. 12:6) Again, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic. 6:8) If we apply these words in our lives, we will be blessed.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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