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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 22:1-5

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, February 9, 2015

Judgment Against Evil Kings
22 This is what the LORD says. Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and speak this word there: 2 Hear the word of the LORD, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who enter these gates.

In chapter 21, the Lord began to give the kings of Judah instructions about how to rule and what their behavior needed to be. None of this was new; Moses had given these same instructions hundreds of years before Judah even had a king (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). The main spiritual requirement for the king was that he should study God’s word and “follow carefully the law” (Deuteronomy 17:18).

Jeremiah was told to say this in front of the king’s palace, where the king, his officials and many of Judah’s people would be going in and out every day. Jeremiah was commanded to remind them all, including the king, of what God expected from the king.

3 This is what the LORD says. Do what is just and right. Rescue the one who has been robbed from the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow. Do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 If you carefully do this, then kings who sit on David’s throne will enter through the gates of this house, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you will not obey these words, then I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that this house will become a ruin.

Could the king stand up to these standards? Had the king been a voice and an advocate for the oppressed or for the man who had property stolen? Had the king at least not taken advantage of any foreigners, or orphans, or widows? These were people who would be less able to defend themselves. Could the king say that he had not shed innocent blood?

Who can stand up to a ruthless king? A wicked king only had to accuse a man of treason or some other charge and the problem would be all over (1 Kings 21:13). He could have his opponents imprisoned, he could have them exiled, or he could even have them killed. But God is the one who holds us all to account.

Some people might naturally think of our their own government when they hear these words. Some people might be tempted to point fingers. But let’s think a little closer to home. What about those who are in a position of authority nearby but who shirk their responsibilities or abuse their power in the workplace, in the church or school, or even the home?

What will bring about a change that will benefit everyone? If you know of such abuses, pray that God would correct them. Offer your time and your two good ears to those who have suffered abuse. Use the correct, God-given channels of accountability, and pray that God would change hearts, with his law to bring about repentance and with his gospel to bring about change.

I count four times in the Bible when God says “I swear by myself” or something close to it. Two of those are gospel promises: One to Abraham for showing his faith (Genesis 22:16) and one promise of judgment for unbelief and salvation for faith (Isaiah 45:22). The other two are here in Jeremiah. Later God will condemn Edom for its sins (Jeremiah 49:13), and here God condemns any king who is unfaithful. We have a faithful King in Jesus Christ. Praise God for blessing you through our heavenly King. His faithfulness means our eternal peace. Let him reign in your heart today and always.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.