16–22 September 2018.
When we read the news about what is going on in the world, it’s easy to lose hope. We watch as the strong do what they want, creating so much pain and injustice, and yet there never seems to be any consequences for their actions. Armies bomb and kill the innocent, politicians spread hatred and racism, big industries commit all types of corruption and crime – and they do it all publicly. They don’t care about keeping these evils secret because they know they will never face consequences. The weak are made to suffer, the poor are pushed into miserable lives, and those who are responsible don’t care. After all, they think to themselves, who’s going to make them pay?
When injustice and evil are so powerful, it’s easy to give up hope and think that nothing will ever get better. We wish that we could change things, but there’s so little we ordinary people can do.
In ancient times, Jeremiah also knew this frustration. Jeremiah watched as the powerful nations around him made his people suffer – and it seemed so hopeless to think that things would ever change. Do we ordinary people have any power to fight back against powerful armies, to demand justice from oppressors or an end to their destructive evil? The incredible size of all the world’s injustice just makes us feel so hopeless and powerless. But Jeremiah’s message is that change is coming – because God’s judgement is coming.
We don’t like reading these judgement texts, like those in Jeremiah 47 and 48. They frighten and even horrify us. But they are important because they remind us that God really does care about justice in this world. God does care about what is right and good and fair. And these texts promise us that even though we little people don’t always have the power to stand up to bullies and to those who do wrong, that doesn’t mean those people will get away with what they are doing. God’s promise to us is that a time of judgement for all evil is coming.
Jeremiah’s prophecies of judgement and doom are frightening. But they point us to a God who is fiercely focused on establishing justice, on protecting the weak, lifting up those in need, defending what is right, and finally pulling down and punishing those who so casually and so happily hurt others. These texts are frightening, but the good news behind them is that God does see what is going on in the world, and he promises us he will act. To all those involved in injustice and to all those suffering under it, God gives his promise: His judgement is coming.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis