The right time to eat

In Jeremiah 21, King Zedekiah sent a two-man envoy to speak with the prophet Jeremiah.

It was the king’s goal to get the prophet to inquire of the Lord on his behalf since the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, was on the attack. Maybe God would perform wonders and save them.

Of course, that’s not a bad hope to have.

The problem was this was a mere last-ditch effort to save themselves.

You know the prayer, right? Lord, if you’ll just do this one thing for me this one time. We know that was kind of the idea based on God’s response to their request. It’s an assurance their enemies will prevail against them. 

There is, though, a linger of hope. There was a way to turn the situation around. The Lord told the king to, “administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed.”

Let’s consider a few points within that charge.

We gather that the morning time was when a king would listen to the grievances his people had against one another. My son participated in a baseball tournament this weekend. In the middle of the afternoon, while calling a game, one of the umpires fainted. It’s pretty hot in south Texas, especially if you’re wearing padded gear and standing in the sun. This doesn’t quite parallel, but it gives us a picture. Kings didn’t want to have that happen to them.

So, judgment time was in the mornings. You can also read that into Ecclesiastes 10:16: Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time.

It appears King Zedekiah and his rulers did not eat at the right time.

What did God want from the king now? In one sense, God told the king to get back to work. “Administer justice every morning.” Every morning see to it that my people have justice.

We also notice these weren’t trivial matters. God continued, “rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed.” What does it mean to call someone an oppressor? I’m sure you know the definition of the word. Were kings and leaders robbing people. Perhaps. That would not be out of the question.

Is it more likely the issues brought before the king were the day-to-day business dealings people had with one another, in some form or another? It seems like that would be what would have happened most. If so, justice for those oppressed and maligned by others was God’s first charge to the king.

God didn’t ask for offerings. In the midst of the king’s worry about wartime defeat, God demanded justice among God’s people. At the very least, that is a two-fold process. Someone needs to be rescued. Someone else needs to be confronted about their oppressive actions.

What does that teach us about what kind of ministry God might lead us to do? What might that suggest about how we engage with the social issues we face today? At the very least, we can sense that justice for God’s people is a priority.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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