by Pastor Mark Hudson
Chapter 22 is a rather brutal piece of literature. Sometimes one wonders if these people are believers at all. Has it reached a point where they are no longer or should no longer be called God’s people? You will discover three prophetic units in vs. 1-16, 17-22; 23-31. You will notice that each of the ten commandments are violated
No other gods before Me – idols in v. 3, 4, 8, 12, 28
Make no graven images – v. 3, 4
Do not take the name of Lord in vain v. 28
Remember the Sabbath vs. 8, 26
Honor father and mother vs. 7, 10-11
Shall not kill vs. 2-4, 6, 8, 13, 25, 27
Shall not commit adultery vs. 10-11
Shall not steal vs. 7, 12, 13, 25, 29
Do not bear false witness vs. 8
Do not covet v. 11
When we read this chapter, we realize, once again, how awful Jerusalem had become. Why does this keep happening? Religious leaders who are not leading in terms of holiness, submission to God, humility, and contrition but rather lead in violence, extortion, impurity and doing “violence to my law and have profaned my holy things” 22:26. This behavior is shocking and yet it is not. When we read this, take it to heart. Pray for your pastors and lay leaders. Pray for one another. Pray that God would keep scandalous sin away from us. We know our own tendencies. We plead with God that he would deliver us from evil.
After the introduction notice the two sections in vs. 6-8, and 9-12, followed by 13-16 You will also notice the repetition of blood in this first section. These political leaders (v. 6), prophets (v. 25), and priests (v. 26) are leaders. They are leading the people of the land (v. 29) to deliberate, shameful, degrading sins. Shedding innocent blood is a serious sin against God. The land cries out when innocent blood is shed. God speaks to Cain in Genesis 4 with this question, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” What a sinful nation are with so many innocent lives murdered by abortion and senseless killing in schools, at parades, and in homes. God does not look on the shedding of innocent blood lightly.
The careful reader will also notice the callous disregard and extortion of the weak and defenseless: the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow (v. 7, 29). God repeatedly refers to these groups and the obligation believers must care and provide for them. These laws that were built into the culture and laws of Israel. And yet, now this nation set apart by God and for God, is assaulting these groups. So, yes, God is angry. Leslie C. Allen calls these sins in 6-12 “the roll call of infamy.” I don’t know if he is the first to say this, but one author said, “The real test of any society is . . . how it treats the people with no voice and no power” D. Lane. How is our nation doing? The question ought to bring shame to our nation but as Jeremiah said about Israel, we do not know how to blush.
In vs. 17-22, we move from accusations to judgment. As Isaiah 1:22 and Jeremiah 6:27-30 used dross and silversmiths were a known commodity. These people were ripe for judgment and would be judged. They would know what sins they committed and exactly where they went wrong.
In the last section, 23-31, the prophet looks back as if the judgment already took place. Prophets are compared to lions tearing their prey, devouring human lives. Prophets who have not heard from God but claim they do. Prophets who cover up sin rather than expose it so others will repent. This section is almost depressing. But God is telling them what they are doing wrong so they might repent but, of course, they never do. Imagine living there? Would you have enjoyed a freer lifestyle? Would you have prospered where there is less restraint and less Biblical theology? Or would you have been provoked by the rebellion around you? Would you have mourned or enjoyed the variety of nightlife?
You live in a society like this. Do you grieve and mourn? Are you praying daily for this country? Do you take advantage of times of worship? We need more worship not less. We need more spiritual growth in holiness not more people in church who are just attending. We do not have priests and prophets, so my analogy is loose not strict. But you live in a wicked, godless, rebellious society.
If judgment came on them what of this country? As we have mentioned before the U.S. has close to 350,000 churches and somewhere around 50 million to 100 million attend church. We have seminaries, Bible colleges, Christian books, magazine, podcasts, and the list goes on. Yet look at our nation. We truly are aliens and strangers. Yet, we are here to worship, bear witness, and tell others about the gospel. There is no better time to live as a Christian.
Dear heavenly Father, the great God of our salvation. We worship and praise Your holy name. You see all the sins of our tiny nation. You must be so grieved. You also see the sins of over 1 billion in China, over 1 billion in India. Yet while You grieve, You also experience perfect joy in the presence of the Triune God. We repent and repent again for our many, grievous sins. Forgive us. Renew us. And bring revival to this dry, parched land. May rivers of Your joyful Spirit water our expectant souls. In Christ’s name. Amen.