Experience silence in the midst of your busy day. Take some time to relax into a time to be with God.
Jeremiah 4:1-4 (NRSV)
If you return, O Israel,
says the LORD,
if you return to me,
if you remove your abominations from my presence,
and do not waver,
and if you swear, “As the LORD lives!”
in truth, in justice, and in uprightness,
then nations shall be blessed[a] by him,
and by him they shall boast.
For thus says the LORD to the people of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
Break up your fallow ground,
and do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,
remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or else my wrath will go forth like fire,
and burn with no one to quench it,
because of the evil of your doings.
Jeremiah prophesied just before the collapse of Judah, hoping to turn his people from their sins. Disaster was coming in the form of Babylon, but he hoped they could escape some of the consequences of their sin. Israel had already fallen to Assyria.
In Genesis, God had promised to make Abram’s descendants into a great nation. He also promised that other nations would be blessed by those descendants. For that promise to be fulfilled, Judah needed to repent.
In our scripture today, God asks Judah to swear only in his name“…in truth, in justice, and in uprightness …”
Two Hebrew words used here are often used throughout the Bible when God speaks about justice and uprightness.
Mishpat means punishing wrongdoers and caring for the victims of unjust treatment.
Tzadeqah is the behavior that would make mishpat unnecessary because everyone would be living in right relationship to everyone else.
When mishpat and tzadeqah are found together, they emphasize day-to-day living in such a way that we all conduct family and community relationships with generosity and fairness.
What would your community look like if Christians swore to God in truth, justice, and uprightness? Would people do everything they could to ensure that everyone was treated well and that injustices were fixed? Would we prosecute the men who exploit women? Would hungry children exist? Would our local police department respond to calls and crimes as quickly in the poor part of town as in the prosperous part? Would our local churches become half-way houses for those who have paid their penalty to the community in prison and need a new start away from the environment in which the crime was committed? Would we seek justice against the exploitive practices of loan companies that prey on the poor and the elderly? Would anyone who is unjustly hurt be restored and given back what was taken from them? Would we do unto others as we would have them do unto us?
God of scripture, each generation of your people, need to learn your ways all over again. Those of us who have been following your teaching for decades still have much to learn. Forgive us and help us to live in community …in truth, in justice, and in uprightness.
Go with God!