by Christopher Harbin

Awaiting Justice
Christopher B. Harbin
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10

''Patience is a virtue.'' ''Good things come to those who wait.'' Like the rabbit in the old Nestle Quick commercial, however, we don't like to wait. We often feel that waiting is pointless. We want what we want, and we want it now. That tends to be our reaction to issues requiring patience and waiting. We find it too difficult to live in the present when what we anticipate is somewhere unseen down the road that lies still ahead. Unlike the commercial, however, all too often the blessings we anticipate are not things that we can rush. They are not projects we can hurry along or push to completion according to the timeframe of personal desire. So what do we do in the meantime, and how do we manage the period of waiting? Do we even know what to expect?

The prophets of Israel and Judah yearned for justice or righteousness. They yearned for leaders who sought to care for the needs of the people. This yearning did not so much apply to the wealthy in the society, as they were the ones in charge. The wealthy made sure their own desires were satisfied. On the other hand, the rank and file of the social order yearned for change. It may not be as clear in today's short passage of three verses from Jeremiah, but in the larger picture, God's word to Judah was that their injustice toward the poor and powerless was behind the coming exile and destruction of the nation.

Ezekiel casts a considerable shadow not only over Israel' and Judah's failure in this regard, but also as a recurrent theme in his messages of Yahweh's judgment to the nations round about. Jeremiah does some of the same, as does Isaiah. Micah places the same message of judgment in language that is perhaps more clear to us. The message of all these prophets is the same, however. Justice, or righteousness, was lacking in the land, specifically justice for the poor, orphan, widow, immigrant, blind, lame, injured, refugee, outcast, and ...

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