Summary: God condemns the descendants of Josiah, who were unjust, and unrighteous towards the poor.
GOD DEMANDS A JUST SOCIETY
JEREMIAH 22:13-17, 21-23
By Clarence Weaver
After studying today’s lesson, students should understand that the Lord used His prophet Jeremiah to warn the people of Judah that He was greatly displeased with the unjust treatment the poor received at the hands of their wealthy neighbors and employers. Jeremiah warns that this injustice is contrary to the will of God and will not go unpunished. Students will decide to treat poor people fairly.
KEEP IN MIND
“I spake unto thee in thy prosperity: but thou saidst, I will not hear”(Jeremiah 22:21a).
In this lesson, God condemns the descendants of Josiah, who were unrighteous and unjust, did not pay their workers fairly, and gloried in wealth (verse 13-14). Jeremiah declared that Josiah, as a true king, worked through justice (verse 15-16). In contrast, unlike Josiah, the current king was greedy and oppressive (verse 17). The lesson ends by declaring that because the leaders trusted prosperity more than God did, they would suffer shame under God’s judgment to come (verse 21-23). The demand to work for justice is clear in Scripture. This lesson points us directly to the consequences that attend injustice. We are called here to do justice because the God whom we serve delights in justice.
1. Descendants of King Josiah Condemned for Their Unrighteousness (Jeremiah 22:13-14)
A. Jeremiah had warned King Jehoiakim of God’s finally warning in Jeremiah 22:1-9. Jeremiah begins by condemnation. Judgment delivered against King Jehoiakim for oppressing the poor to work for nothing and not paying them for their labor. King Jehoiakim thought since he was the king he was entitled to having the best palace and the people was obligated to do it because he is king.
B. The word “woe” is used as preparation for a declaration of judgment and condemnation. The charges against Jehoiakim are injustice, pride, arrogance, greed, and oppression of the poor and laborers and the lack of right priorities ass king.
Injustice: unfairness, prejudice, wrong, and discrimination.
Pride: conceited, self-importance, proud, and vain
Arrogance: haughtiness, egotism, and overconfidence
Greed: gluttony, ravenousness, desire, and insatiability
Oppression: domination, subjugation, and cruelty
People that have those kinds of spirits don’t care who is hurt or how it is paid for. There is nothing wrong with anyone having things to reflect their position, however the motivate behind obtaining them will always be judge.
2. Jeremiah Proclaims the Righteousness of King Josiah (Jeremiah 22:15-16)
A. Having a Godly Character is Better than Silver and Gold
King Josiah had judged the cause of the needy and supplying to the poor, and doing the things God required him to do.
King Jehoiakim thought having a grand home was the standard that made him king. During a time when the nation was turmoil bankrupt and the Babylonian army currently surrounded the city an insensitive Jehoiakim thought only about himself.
B. What Does the Lord Requires From You
Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Or, in other words, act with fairness, honesty, and integrity. What God requires of us is that we do what is right and fair in our relationships with other people.
Justice involves the sense of a standard of equality among people. It can be as simple as being honest in even the smallest routine business transaction.
We are a nation of Enron’s – and they are not all on a large scale.
We do the cheating on small scales that never make the headlines.
We cheat our neighbors.
If we can swindle an employee, or steal from our employer, we’ll find a way and do it. But God requires all of us – Enron or simple individual – to act justly.
The second thing that God requires of us is that we “love mercy.” We are also to fill our hearts with compassion and kindness toward one another.
It is a word that most often used in a covenant sense, involving the attitude of two parties who are in covenantal relationship with one another. In relation to God’s mercy, it is used most often of His grace, or of UNEXPECTED kindness.
Micah tells us three things God requires of us. One is to act justly. The second is to love mercy. Easy tasks, But hard to make a reality.
We don’t love mercy.
We don’t value kindness.
We return rudeness with rudeness.
We allow opportunities to show kindness to pass us by.
When we should be gentle with others, we are harsh.
WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD
Have you noticed that when Micah tells us what God expects the first two things he expects have nothing to do with God. They have to do with how we behave toward one another.