If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever….Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe” – safe to do all these detestable things?…I will thrust you from My presence…For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them…I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I commanded you, that it may go well with you.
– Jeremiah 7:5-7, 9-10, 15, 22-23 (NIV)
Do you hear echoes of the Bible verses we focused on over the past two days in the passage quoted above?
These verses from Jeremiah directly refer to the covenant God made with Abraham when they say “the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.” Jeremiah outlines what the Lord expects from the people in order for Him to fulfill this covenant promise.
In Jeremiah 7:23, God says, “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.” In Genesis 17, hundreds of years earlier, the Lord said in striking similarity, “walk before me and be blameless…and I will be their God.”1
Recall from yesterday’s post that another stipulation God makes for fulfilling His promise to Abraham and his descendants is that they “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.”
The direct parallel between these passages suggests that they refer to the same covenant promise and that Jeremiah 7 expounds on what being blameless and “doing what is right and just” entails.
Doing what’s right and just is not only caring for the poor and oppressed, nor is it limited to personally upright behavior. It’s both, in addition to being in right relationship with the Lord and with others.
“Doing what is right and just” means to “not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” It means to not “steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known.”
And it means to obey God’s voice, to be in relationship with Him, and to walk in all the ways that He has commanded us.
God says if the Israelites do these things, “then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.”
Justice by the world’s terms can remain separate from relationships and upright living. Justice by God’s terms absolutely cannot.