“I love justice and I hate oppression and crime.
I will faithfully reward my people
And make an eternal covenant with them.
They will be famous among the nations;
Everyone who sees them will know
That they are a people whom I have blessed.”
We had hoped…
…that COVID would be over and done with by now;
…that our political disagreements would have become more civil;
…that the violence in our cities would have subsided;
…that supply chain issues would have resolved;
…that people would go back to working in all sectors;
…that the economy would have bounced back;
…that travel – local, national and international – would have returned to ‘normal;’
…that the world would “go back to normal.”
I’ve been looking at “the prophets” lately. It’s generally the part of the Old Testament after Psalms and Proverbs. It’s a shame that we don’t study these books too often because in them, generally speaking, God is specifically speaking to His people. He’s accusing them, He’s warning them, He’s admonishing them to repent, and perhaps most exciting of all, He gives them HOPE! He promises restoration, a Savior who will bring healing, and a time when God’s Kingdom will once again return to earth, and God and mankind will be reunited as they were in the Garden of Eden. Now change the ‘them’ to ‘us.’
By the time of the Prophets, God has decided to pass judgment on His people by allowing them to be taken into captivity by Assyria and then Babylon. Those days were like the ‘End Times,’ full of injustice, crime, and corruption and worst of all, the kings and religious leaders who should have been rescuing and protecting their people were the ones exploiting them. Sound familiar at all?
Falling away from God to follow other idols of money, power, security, politics, entertainment, addictions, etc. always leads to judgment and consequences. Most of us are familiar with this famous promise from God, given after the dedication of Solomon’s Temple:
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
But perhaps less familiar is the other half of the promise:
“But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’” 2 Chronicles 7:19-22
And He did.
Of course, we have Jesus now as our New Covenant. But rather than absolving us of our responsibility as a nation, Jesus’ calling is even higher. It is a calling to make other people’s problems our own. It is a calling to take on injustice and corruption and bring healing and reconciliation whenever possible. It is a calling to bring God’s Kingdom to earth by making disciples, with each one of us as a Temple of the Holy Spirit where God dwells.
And this is the GREAT HOPE that the Prophets foretold. It won’t be complete until Jesus returns, but until He comes, we better get busy. There is plenty of injustice, violence and corruption for us to fight against. There are plenty of people suffering from the effects of sin. But there is bright hope for tomorrow! We bring that message of hope, and one great and glorious day, Jesus will return, and we will dwell in the garden once more, fully restored and in perfect communion with God!
1 The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. 35 And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”