The Lord proclaims: Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and declare this message: Listen to the Lord’s word, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you and your attendants, and all those who go through these gates. The Lord proclaims: Do what is just and right; rescue the oppressed from the power of the oppressor. Don’t exploit or mistreat the refugee, the orphan, and the widow. Don’t spill the blood of the innocent in this place. If you obey this command, then through the gates of this palace will come kings who occupy the throne of David, riding on chariots and horses along with their entourage and subjects. But if you ignore these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this palace will become a ruin. The Lord proclaims concerning the palace of the king of Judah:
Though you are like Gilead to me,
like the summit of Lebanon,
I will turn you into a desert—uninhabited cities.
I will summon destroyers against you,
who will use their weapons
to cut down your finest cedars
and hurl them into the fire.
People from many nations will pass by this city and ask each other: “Why has the Lord treated that great city like this?” And the answer will be, “Because they abandoned the covenant with the Lord their God and worshipped and served other gods.”
If you read verses 22:3 and 22:9, you might wonder what the two have to do with each other. Verse 3 talks about ethical behavior, particularly caring for those on the outside edges of society, and verse 9 talks about “serving other gods.” What DO these two things have to do with each other? How does failing to serve the refugee, orphan, or widow lead to following other gods? The two just don’t seem to add up.
Well, consider this: when we feel a little tug on our hearts to stand up for someone else, to serve them, to advocate for them – who is the one doing the tugging? Isn’t it the Spirit of the Lord? So, if we choose to ignore that prompting, if we dismiss or deny it, aren’t we betraying the Spirit by our failure to listen?
When we do that, we put something else in the place of God: maybe convenience, maybe the desire to be respectable, maybe the sense that we don’t want to rock the boat. But when our hearts only have limited parking, it seems unreasonable to give away God’s parking space and still expect God to keep coming around like usual – doesn’t it?
For Pondering & Prayer
When you choose to ignore those little tugs of conscience (and we all do), can you pinpoint a reason why you make that choice? The more you can see a pattern, the more likely you are to be able to break it!
Is there someone today – in your family, in your workplace, or in the community – that you feel God’s Spirit tugging your heart toward? What might be a next step in intentionally following the Spirit’s leading toward that person or group of people?