Repent of Injustice

Jeremiah 22:1-10

SS Lesson for 05/24/2020

 

Devotional Scripture: Deut 24:17-22

Lesson Background and Key Verse

Background from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted in the state of Washington. It was the deadliest eruption ever in the United States. The estimated power of the blast was 1,600 times the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Miles of forest were leveled by the direct blast, and the very earth was scorched by its power. Fifty-seven people and thousands of animals died as a result. What had previously been lush forest and vacation area looked like moonscape. The ash cloud turned the sky dark as far away as Montana. The blast was a violent reminder of nature's potential for destruction. The utter devastation that was to follow the destruction of Jerusalem probably looked equally shocking. A once thriving city would be reduced to wilderness and wasteland. A primary thing to keep in mind, however, is that the devastation of Jerusalem was definitely supernatural in origin.

 

God called Jeremiah as a young man to be His prophet to Judah; Jeremiah's own evaluation was that he was too young and not qualified to speak (Jeremiah 1:6). The forthcoming confrontations would seem, at times, to be just two against everyone else. But since one of those two was God (1:17-19), there could be no question regarding the outcome. At times in Jeremiah's lengthy ministry, the stress was so great that it seemed as if he was at the psychological breaking point. Nothing Jeremiah did seemed to persuade people. One example of his extreme frustration is his series of complaints in Jeremiah 12:1-4 (also 20:7-18). God's response? If we could be permitted a very loose translation of Jeremiah 12:5, it would be something like, “Cowboy up and get with the program!” But Jeremiah's early years of prophetic ministry under King Josiah were easy compared to what was to come.

 

Key Verse: Jer 22:3

Thus says the Lord: "Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place

 

Commentary from the Bible Knowledge Commentary

The opposition of Pashhur (20:1-6) serves as a pivot or bridge in the Book of Jeremiah. Through a series of nine undated prophecies Jeremiah had denounced Judah’s sin, threatened judgment, and offered hope if the people would repent. Though opposition had surfaced (11:18-23; 12:6; 15:10; 17:18; 18:19-23), he had not suffered any physical persecution. With the recording of Pashhur’s response, however, Jeremiah’s book took on a more personal note. His prophecies were now directed against specific individuals and groups, and Judah’s hope of repentance was replaced with the certainty of God’s judgment. The first group singled out by Jeremiah was the kings—those appointed by God to be shepherds of the flock of Judah (cf. 2:8; 10:21; 23:1-8; Ezek. 34:1-10). Jeremiah first rebuked the wicked kings who had ruled Judah (Jer. 21-22). Then he offered hope in the righteous King who would come to restore Judah (23:1-8). Jeremiah’s messages to the wicked kings were arranged in an unusual order. The first king listed was Zedekiah who was the last king chronologically (Jer. 21:1-22:9). The other kings were then arranged chronologically beginning with Shallum (Jehoahaz, 22:10-12), continuing with Jehoiakim (22:13-23), and ending with Coniah (Jehoiachin/Jeconiah, 22:24-30). Why did Jeremiah place Zedekiah out of chronological order, putting him first and Coniah last? Perhaps for two reasons. First, by discussing Zedekiah at the beginning he was able to put the story of “Pashhur son of Malkijah” (21:1) next to the story of “Pashhur son of Immer” (20:1). The fact that these two individuals had the same name provides continuity. The vindication Jeremiah sought because of Pashhur son of Immer’s ridicule was realized when Pashhur son of Malkijah was sent to Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord. Second, the accounts were arranged so that the prophecy against Coniah would climax God’s judgments against the kings. The line of the wicked kings would be cut off (22:30) because God would raise a righteous Branch to rule the nation (23:1-8). So the arrangement of these prophecies provided both continuity and climax.

21:11-14. Jeremiah again singled out the royal house of Judah and focused on their sin. The king was supposed to administer justice and to uphold the rights of those who were oppressed. Since he refused to heed God’s warning, God’s wrath would burn like an unquenchable fire (cf. 4:4; 17:4). Evidently the king saw no need to obey God’s injunction. He felt so secure in his well-protected city that he boasted, Who can enter our refuge? Because of this proud self-reliance, coupled with sinful disobedience, God would punish the king and his people. God’s fire (cf. 21:12) of judgment would consume everything around them.

22:1-5. God instructed Jeremiah to go down from the temple to the king’s palace. His message to the king and to the officials and people who were there was for them to do what is just and right. The content of this message was similar to 21:12, but certain consequences were attached to the actions. If the king would be careful to observe God’s commands he could expect continued blessing. But if he disobeyed those commands, God vowed that the royal palace would become a ruin.

22:6-9. In these verses Jeremiah was referring to the royal palace. Both Gilead and Lebanon were known for their forests (Judges 9:15; 1 Kings 4:33; 2 Chron. 2:8), and the royal palace in Jerusalem was known as the “Palace of the Forest of Lebanon” (1 Kings 7:2-5; Isa. 22:8). But after God’s judgment the palace would be as desolate as a desert. The Babylonians would cut up the palace’s fine cedar beams and cast them into the fire (cf. Jer. 52:13). As people from other nations saw the destruction of this magnificent structure, they would ask... why God had done such a thing. The answer was simple. God had judged the city because the people had forsaken the covenant and had worshiped... other gods. God had judged the people with His promised curses because of their disobedience.

22:10-12. Shallum was another name for Jehoahaz. He was a son of Josiah, and succeeded Josiah to the throne in 609 b.c. after Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Neco II (2 Kings 23:29-33). After a reign of only three months, Shallum was deposed by Pharaoh Neco. Jeremiah penned this prophecy in 609 after Shallum had gone from Jerusalem into captivity in Egypt (2 Kings 23:34). Jeremiah predicted that Shallum would never return to Jerusalem. Instead, he would die in the place where he had been deported as a captive.

 

Major Theme Analysis

(Scriptural Text from the New King James Version; cross-references from the NIV)

Command For Justice (Jer 22:1-5)

 

1 Thus says the Lord: "Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word,

2 and say, 'Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates!

3 Thus says the Lord: "Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.

4 For if you indeed do this thing, then shall enter the gates of this house, riding on horses and in chariots, accompanied by servants and people, kings who sit on the throne of David.

5 But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself," says the Lord, "that this house shall become a desolation." ' "

 

Command from God for justice (1-2)

Justice that comes from righteous wisdom (Ps 37:30)

30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.

Justice that comes from the plans of the righteous (Prov 12:5)

5 The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

Justice that comes from doing right (Prov 21:3)

3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Justice that comes from insight (Ps 119:98-100)

98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. 99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. 100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.

Justice is one of the requirements of God (Mic 6:8)

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.

Justice is the manifestation of loving God (Luke 11:42)

42 "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

 

Command for righteous judgments (3)

Righteous because God's judgment is based on truth (Rom 2:2)

2 Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

Righteous because God judges in righteousness and justice (Ps 9:7-8)

7 The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. 8 He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.

Righteous because God is righteous in all His ways (Ps 145:17)

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.

Righteous because God will judge the world through Jesus (Acts 17:31)

31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

Righteous because God's judgment is right (2 Thess 1:5)

5 All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

Righteous because God's judgments are always righteous (Ps 96:13)

13 they will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.

 

Command of choice for obedience (4-5)

Choose obedience because of the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 1:4-7)

4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

Choose obedience because of the certainty of God's word (2 Peter 1:19)

19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Choose obedience because breaking just one point makes one guilty of all of it (James 2:8-10)

8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

Choose obedience because to obey is to be counted righteous (Rom 2:13)

13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Choose obedience because God will punish those who do not obey (2 Thess 1:8)

8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Choose obedience because it is shameful to be disobedient (2 Thess 3:14)

14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.

Choose obedience because judgment starts with the family of God (1 Peter 4:17)

17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Choose obedience because no one knows the time when Jesus will come back (Rev 3:3)

3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Warnings for Injustice (Jer 22:6-10)

 

6 For thus says the Lord to the house of the king of Judah: "You are Gilead to Me, The head of Lebanon; Yet I surely will make you a wilderness, Cities which are not inhabited.

7 I will prepare destroyers against you, Everyone with his weapons; They shall cut down your choice cedars And cast them into the fire.

8 And many nations will pass by this city; and everyone will say to his neighbor, 'Why has the Lord done so to this great city?'

9 Then they will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.' "

10 Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him; Weep bitterly for him who goes away, For he shall return no more, Nor see his native country.

 

Warning of destruction (6-7)

Destruction by the Almighty God (Isa 13:6)

6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.

Destruction because of man's sinful nature (Gal 6:8)

8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Destruction by a just God (2 Thess 1:6-9)

6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power

Destruction of the ungodly (2 Peter 3:7)

7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Destruction caused by pride (Prov 16:18)

18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Destruction that is swift (2 Peter 2:1)

1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves.

 

Warning of condemnation (8-9)

Condemnation for those who exploit others (2 Peter 2:3)

3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

Condemnation for preaching a false gospel (Gal 1:7-9)

7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

Condemnation for those who have not believed the truth (2 Thess 2:12)

12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Condemnation for those who deceive (2 Cor 11:15)

15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Condemnation for those who disbelieve (Mark 16:16)

16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Condemnation for judging one another (Rom 2:1)

2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

 

Warning of exiling (10)  (separation)

Exiled because of disobedience (Deut 28:45-48)

45 All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. 46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.

Exiled because of prideful leaders (Isa 39:6-7)

6 The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. 7 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."

Exiled because of sin (Jer 15:13-14)

13 Your wealth and your treasures I will give as plunder, without charge, because of all your sins throughout your country. 14 I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for my anger will kindle a fire that will burn against you."

Exiled through their own fault (Jer 17:4)

4 Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever."

Exiled because of doing evil in the sight of God (2 Kings 23:31-34)

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 32 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his fathers had done. 33 Pharaoh Neco put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

Exiled because of not trusting God (Jer 42:18-19)

18 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'As my anger and wrath have been poured out on those who lived in Jerusalem, so will my wrath be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You will be an object of cursing and horror, of condemnation and reproach; you will never see this place again.' 19 "O remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, 'Do not go to Egypt.' Be sure of this: I warn you today

 

Conclusion and Other Thoughts

Commentary Thoughts from Thomas Constable

Verse 1-2

The Lord told Jeremiah to go down to the king’s palace, evidently from the temple or perhaps from Anathoth, and deliver a prophetic message to him, his servants, and the people who gathered there.

Verse 3

Jeremiah instructed the king and his administrators to practice justice in their decisions regarding civil matters (cf. Jeremiah 21:12). They should protect the weak and vulnerable and should not shed innocent blood. Social justice has always been important to Yahweh.

"Who within our society are represented by the ones robbed by extortioners or by the sojourner, orphan, and widow? Is it the poor, the migrant, the alien? Is it the Third World worker who provides delicacies for our table, or cheap products for our market, but barely ekes out an existence for himself and his family? Is our concern for justice limited to ourselves and those like us? Or do we practice justice even toward those who have no advocate?" [Note: Drinkard, p299.]

Verse 4

If they obeyed, God would perpetuate the reign of David’s descendants on Judah’s throne with glory and power.

Verse 5

If they disobeyed, God swore by Himself to destroy the palace.

Jeremiah 22:6-7 appear to be another oracle, in poetic form, against an unnamed Judean king.

Verse 6

The Lord regarded the Davidic palace as a most pleasant and glorious thing, like Gilead and Mount Hermon, areas both famous for their forests and mountains. Again, the House of the Forest of Lebanon may be particularly in view (cf. Jeremiah 21:14). Yet He would turn the king’s residence into a desolation, like a wilderness or an uninhabited town, if the rulers disobeyed.

Verse 7

He would appoint destroyers for the royal residence, and the royal line, who would cut the palaces down like a forest of trees (cf. Psalm 74).

This pericope is very similar to the preceding one, except it is in prose.

Verse 8

Representatives from other nations would pass by Jerusalem and wonder why her God had destroyed her (cf. Matthew 23:38; Luke 13:35).

Verse 9

It would become clear to them, on reflection, that it was because the kings and people had broken covenant with Yahweh. Ancient Near Easterners understood the consequences of covenant unfaithfulness, and they would associate them with Jerusalem’s fate.

Verse 10

Jeremiah instructed the people not to mourn over Josiah, who had died in battle with the Egyptians, as much as they should mourn over those who had gone into captivity. Pharaoh Neco II had deposed Jehoahaz and had taken him captive to Egypt (2 Kings 23:31-35). Jehoahaz was the king’s throne name, and Shallum was his personal name. He was Josiah’s second Song of Solomon, whom the people of the land had placed on Judah’s throne (2 Chronicles 36:1). The fate of the people and Jehoahaz was worse than Josiah’s, because they would remain alive but never be able to return to the Promised Land. In one sense, death is worse than life, but in another sense, life under certain conditions is worse than death.

                           (Adapted from URL:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-22.html)

 

Concluding Thoughts from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

The word from the Lord to the house of David features two promises: (1) If David's descendants would renounce injustice, then God would bless them, but (2) if not, they would suffer punishment. Judah would experience the full and recognizable consequences of walking away from God. God would therefore exhibit His character to the world and draw people to himself in one of those two ways. God calls us to the same challenge He posed through Jeremiah. As we demonstrate God's righteous and just character in our actions, we also must expose the injustice inflicted on the powerless by oppressive people and systems. But we don't just draw people to God as an abstract. Rather, we draw people to the living Jesus. To reject this mission is to risk experiencing God in ways we will not like.

 

Concluding Thoughts from the Echoes Commentary

Jeremiah Laid Out Choices - Years before the Babylonians came to conquer Jerusalem, Jeremiah issued a stem message to King Jehoiakim: repent and receive God's reward, or reject His words and surfer punishment. Jeremiah's message implied God would turn things around in Judah's favor if the king listened. He needed to call the nation to stop their crooked behaviors toward the less fortunate, and God would protect the city and His people. However, if not, God's consequences were coming, and they were severe.

 

The Leaders Took Advantage - The people felt the oppression. The leaders heavily taxed the citizens, made them labor without pay, and erected beautiful buildings for the royal family. They also committed violent acts against the people, to the point of bloodshed.

 

Jeremiah's Sermon Penetrated Deep - The royals depended on their connection to David—God promised his house would be eternal. But because of their continued sinfulness, the message was very plain: it's going to happen. In the future, many people from the surrounding nations would pass by God's country and city and scratch their heads. Why would the almighty God of the Israelites allow them to be plundered? They would conclude, the people worshiped idols and forsook the true and living God.

 

What Can Be Done - When we are well-off, it is easy for us to forget about the homeless, widows, those without parents, and foreigners coming into the country. Our daily routines and activities can overshadow those outside our families or circle of friends who are calling for help. But God's ear is sensitive to their cry, and He tells us to help. Therefore, Christians should always be asking, how can we help this population? What would God have us do?