by Bob Wickizer

Old God or New God?
Bob Wickizer
Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the son of the king.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice (Ps 72:1-2).

We are entering a new political season and the entertainment value seems better than anything Hollywood could produce. It seems like we have come to expect that leaders of all kinds should have an ego a mile wide. We have come to mostly expect our leaders to be self-serving. After all, if our leaders don't have huge egos and if they don't reward themselves handsomely, how can we expect them to be able to manage the entire country or a church diocese for that matter? It hasn't always been this way.

About the time Aristotle was doing philosophy in Athens, the folks across the Mediterranean were playing a real-life game of king of the mountain. The Israelites had split into the kingdom of Israel to the north and the kingdom of Judah to the south. The influence of the Assyrians was declining while Babylon was flexing its muscles. Some preachers will talk about nations during the time of Jeremiah paying taxes, but that is not really accurate. What was paid was tribute in a game of national extortion. ''I won't destroy your nation and your people if you just pay me so much every year.''

The Israelites had insisted that they have kings like all the other nations in the neighborhood. The series of kings that followed David were all self-serving and their bad decisions led the Jews to the edge of destruction. Forced to choose between an alliance with neighboring Egypt or paying tribute to Babylon, the king of Judah made the wrong choice. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and deported its upper class to Babylon. He left Zedekiah as the puppet to rule over the ruined city and the people left behind.

Jeremiah begins his oracle today declaring woe upon the shepherds who have scattered and not ...

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