It is so sad to watch a good thing go bad. This is never more so than where it concerns spiritual things. Jerusalem was not what she once was! (21). Look at the words ”once” and ”used to”. The once ”faithful city” of Jerusalem has become a ”harlot”. Its citizens have committed spiritual adultery by chasing after other gods (lovers!). We see something of that later on in the chapter. ”Your dalliances in those oak grove shrines will leave you looking mighty foolish, All that fooling around in god and goddess gardens that you thought was the latest thing. You’ll end up like an oak tree with all its leaves falling off.” (29, 30a) The Message. The practical and terrible result of this idolatry is social injustice (22, 23). After all, a people will only ever be as good as their gods. ”She was once all justice, everyone living as good neighbours, And now they’re all at one another’s throats…Your leaders are turncoats who keep company with crooks. They sell themselves to the highest bidder and grab anything not nailed down.” The Message. The encouraging thing is that God says He will ”purge” and ”restore” the city (25, 26.) But it will be a painful work: ” I’ll give you the back of my hand, purge the junk from your life, clean you up. I’ll set honest judges and wise counselors among you just like it was at the beginning. Then you’ll be renamed City-That-Treats-People-Right, the True-Blue City…GOD’s right ways will put Zion right again. GOD’s right actions will restore her penitents. The Message. As someone observed, God loves His people far too much to allow the process of deterioration to continue.
There were lots of ”mighty” men in that society, apparently doing really well for themselves (31). They had their heads deep in the trough. But ” ‘The Big Man’ will turn out to be dead bark and twigs, and his ‘work’ the spark that starts the fire.” There is much injustice abroad in the world, but sooner or later God will balance the scales.
As we conclude this first chapter remember this: ”Sin breaks God’s heart, cheapens a nation or an individual, and invites the judgment of God. God graciously offers His forgiveness if we will repent (vv.18-20). It is good to pray, ”Wash me” (Ps.51:7), but keep in mind that God says, ”Wash yourselves” (Isa.1:16). Paul wrote, ”Let us cleanse ourselves” (2 Cor.7:1). Follow that advice and keep yourself clean!” Warren.W. Wiersbe: With the Word, p.453
Prayer: Thank you Lord that because you love so much you also chasten so faithfully.