One expects the onslaught to continue.
But it is so important to remember that the never-ending love of God always glides just beneath God’s breath, longing for his beloved’s repentance; then at last, restoration. You might even say he is the God of second chances; he mourns judgment of his children, hence so many warnings!
So God sends Jeremiah once again to the temple to give them a command to show the way out:
“Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no harm or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow…For if you indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David…But if you do not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation” (22:2b-5, ESV).
Here God offers both the heart and soul of what he is looking for from us, but also what will happen if we do not obey – we will end up with evil leaders and no country at all. There is much to think about here today regarding how we treat those around us in the church and in America; for example, loving treatment of the resident alien – a very current issue some 2,500 years later!
Then comes a passionate analogy from the never-ending love of a parent torn by the need to discipline:
“You are like Gilead to me, like the summit of Lebanon…” (22:6b).
That is, “You are the most beautiful part of my entire creation! Please, please listen to me before it is too late!”
In Chapter 23, God appears to dig down to the root of the problem:
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!...You have scattered my flock and driven them away…both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil…” (23:1, 2, 11).
The context here continues to be the four failed kings of Judah, but the warning stretches all the way to our leaders today.
We have many leaders, but only one Shepherd; many dreams of power, but only one whose name could be called “Truth.” In many ways, we are being misled if we are not being careful to discern godliness in our leaders.
God provides the answer:
“Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat” (23:28)?
Whether it is in government or church, if our leaders speak what is not consistent with the Bible, especially the words of the Messiah of Israel, our true King, he or she is not to be followed or believed.
And if our leaders conduct themselves in ways that violate the rule of God’s law for power or enrichment, they are to be rejected.
What has straw in common with wheat?
Wheat is to be threshed and made into the Bread of Life in Jesus.
Straw is what is rejected and burned.