Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. — Jeremiah 22:3-4
In January of 1943, Doctor Adelaide Hautval, the daughter of a French Protestant pastor, was sent to Auschwitz. Her crime? After being arrested for crossing into the unoccupied zone in France in order to attend her mother’s funeral, she had vehemently protested the inhumane treatment of Jewish prisoners. She told the guards, “They are human beings just like us.” The guard responded that from then on, she would be treated like a Jew. She was forced to wear a yellow patch identifying her as a “Friend of the Jews,” and was transferred to Auschwitz, the largest of Nazi Germany’s concentration and extermination camps.
Because of her medical background, Hautval was assigned to the notorious Block 10, where Nazi medical teams performed pseudo-medical experiments on Jewish women. In spite of potential retribution, she courageously refused to participate in these experiments, and instead quietly did whatever she could to help the condemned women. Known to the women prisoners as the “angel in white,” she hid sick women on the upper bunks, did not report epidemics that occurred in the prison barracks, and offered the Jewish women every possible kindness.
In April of 1945, Hautval was liberated by Allied troops, and subsequently testified at the trials of several German doctors. At the close of one of those trials, the judge called Hautval “one of the most impressive and courageous women who have ever given evidence in the courts of this country.”
What an example of one who fulfilled the admonition given in our focus verses! Adelaide Hautval did her best to “deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor.” She refused, at the peril of her own life, to do violence to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. And eventually she was honored for her stand: in 1965 she was given the “Righteous Among the Nations” award from the government of Israel.
In today’s focus verses, Jeremiah enjoined King Jehoiakim and two others of the ruling family to practice righteousness and justice. They were assured that if they would turn from evil and do right, the kingdom of Judah would flourish. However, the prophet also declared that if they continued in rebellion, they would be utterly destroyed.
The principle outlined in these verses is still applicable in our day. Those who choose to do right and live in obedience to God will enjoy His blessing. Although this may not always be evidenced by material prosperity or temporal benefits in this life, it will certainly bring a rich reward in eternity. Conversely, those who refuse to do right, if they continue in that way, will suffer eternal consequences for their rebellion against God.
Today, let us purpose to be among those who do right, and live in obedience to God. We will never be sorry if we make that choice!
Chapter 22 continues the ninth sermon and begins a series of oracles, including some that Bible scholars believe were given by Jeremiah during the reigns of kings prior to Zedekiah. These messages reinforce the fact that Judah and her kings had been thoroughly warned of the judgment that was going to come upon the nation.
Verses 1-9 contain a message to the royal house, which introduces the other warnings. The responsibilities of the kings were noted and the rewards for fulfilling them mentioned. However, if the kings refused to follow God’s commands, their land would be made desolate. “Gilead” and “the head of Lebanon” may have referred to the royal palace which was built of oak and cedar. It may also have referred to the countryside of Judah — Gilead was the most fertile area; Lebanon was the highest mountain — but neither the kings nor the natural resources would be sufficient to stop God’s judgment.
Verses 10-12 are an oracle about Shallum, who was also called Jehoahaz. This was Josiah’s son who became king when Josiah was killed at Megiddo. After reigning three months, Shallum was taken to Egypt by Pharaoh-necho. The people of Judah were still mourning for Josiah, but God told them to mourn for Shallum because he would never return to Judah. He was the first of Judah’s kings to die in exile.
The next oracle, verses 13-23, was to Jehoiakim, who was also called Eliakim. Another of Josiah’s sons, he was an ungodly king and unscrupulous ruler. He built a lavish palace by making the people work without receiving pay, and he oppressed them. God reminded Jehoiakim that his father had lived in luxury, but God had blessed him because of his righteousness and justice toward the people.
The prophet declared that Jehoiakim would be brought to justice for his violence against the people of Judah. He would die a shameful death and not be buried like a king. In the ancient East, the dead were mourned loudly, but no one would wail for Jehoiakim. His body would be treated like an animal’s.
Verses 20-23 imply again that the allies (“thy lovers”) and leaders (“pastors”) of the people of Judah would not be able to help them, because they had refused to heed God’s warnings.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The pronouncement of judgment against Judah
A. The condemnation of the prophet
9. The ninth sermon: Against Judah’s kings
a. The message against Zedekiah
(3) The choice of Zedekiah and the people (22:1-9)
b. The message against Shallum (22:10-12)
c. The message against Jehoiakim (22:13-23)
Those who take heed to God’s Word and choose to live righteously are assured of His blessing, but those who refuse will incur divine judgment.