Thoughts on Jeremiah 22 Day 26, Lent 2013

I did listen to most of Jeremiah in today's mega-Lenten-reading plan. I did read this chapter and I'm struck how opposed it is to the Tea Party/Ayn Rand/economic survival of the fittest that so many Americans, including Bible believers that I know.

Jeremiah's message to the monarchy is that God will allow the country to be destroyed and the population deported because of how they are treating foreigners, orphans, widows, and others in need.
Jeremiah 22:1 This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: 2 ‘Hear the word of the Lord to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. 3 This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’” 
God warns them, through Jeremiah, that his beneficence is not about the location or the history but their behavior toward the weak (physically, politically, and economically). There is a connection between their selfish behaviors and who they worship. Our idols, today, are more subtle; success, wealth, convenience.
Jeremiah 22:6 For this is what the Lord says about the palace of the king of Judah: “Though you are like Gilead to me, like the summit of Lebanon, I will surely make you like a wasteland, like towns not inhabited. 7 I will send destroyers against you, each man with his weapons, and they will cut up your fine cedar beams and throw them into the fire. 8 “People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?’ 9 And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’” 
For some reason, in our country, many people I know, believe a president who seeks to provide healthcare to everyone seeks to destroy our country. Perhaps, just maybe, he might fear God more than they do. I don't understand a political philosophy that resists legislating a living wage, or an upper limit on executive wages, or higher taxes on the rich instead of on the poor. God has a warning for conspicuous consumers.
Jeremiah 22:13 “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor. 14 He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.’ So he makes large windows in it, panels it with cedar and decorates it in red. 15 “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. 16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord. 17 “But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”
Paul observes in his letter to his protege Timothy, 1 Tim. 6:9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Contrary to Gordon Gecko, Paul thinks greed is not good. It's not good personally, and in Jeremiah's book, it's not good for society. This story from a poorer Christian is enlightening.


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