April 06, 2006

Knowing God (5)

Jeremiah 22:11-17

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy ... Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16


In our reading for today the prophet Jeremiah is pronouncing judgment on the sons of King Josiah of Judah. The king's immediate successor, Shallum, is no longer king. He was taken into exile, and now his brother (Jehoiakim) is on the throne. God criticizes him for building a fancy palace while many of his own people were poor and starving.

This king knew it would be too expensive to build a fine, luxurious palace for himself. But then he had an idea: "I'll build my palace anyway, and I won't pay the construction workers!" God's law for the people, however, protected the rights of laborers (see Deuteronomy 24:14). The Bible is full of commands to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, and the imprisoned. So the king knew better, and his oppression of the poor made things about as bad as they could get.

God points out that the king's father, Josiah, had defended the cause of the poor and needy. Then God blasts Josiah's son with these words: "Is that not what it means to know me?"

There are many ways to know God. But the real test for knowing God is how we care for the poor and oppressed. God came to the aid of his people when they were in need, and he invites all who want to know him to reach out to others who are in need.

Lord, thank you for coming to our aid, saving us from sin and death through Jesus, your Son. May we show that we really know you by helping others who are in need. Amen.

About the author — H. David Schuringa

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