See how Jerusalem, once so faithful, has become a prostitute. Once the home of justice and righteousness, she is now filled with murderers. Once like pure silver, you have become like worthless slag. Once so pure, you are now like watered-down wine. Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves. All of them love bribes and demand payoffs, but they refuse to defend the cause of orphans or fight for the rights of widows. Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says, “I will take revenge on my enemies and pay back my foes! I will raise my fist against you. I will melt you down and skim off your slag. I will remove all your impurities. Then I will give you good judges again and wise counselors like you used to have. Then Jerusalem will again be called the Home of Justice and the Faithful City.” Zion will be restored by justice; those who repent will be revived by righteousness. But rebels and sinners will be completely destroyed, and those who desert the Lord will be consumed. You will be ashamed of your idol worship in groves of sacred oaks. You will blush because you worshiped in gardens dedicated to idols. You will be like a great tree with withered leaves, like a garden without water. The strongest among you will disappear like straw; their evil deeds will be the spark that sets it on fire. They and their evil works will burn up together, and no one will be able to put out the fire.
I am disheartened and at the same time encouraged by this passage. I am disheartened because I am so much like the people of Israel when it comes to serving God. Not that I want bribes or payoffs, but I want to do it when it is convenient for me. Isn’t that the same thing as trying to bribe God, “I’ll serve you, but only if it’s easy for me” How easy it is for me to let the distractions that satan throws out there get to me!
But the good news is that God will use us if we just let Him! He will send us wise counselors that are interested in us becoming a home of justice and a faithful city. But if we’re not paying attention (or have too much pride), we will miss them. Let’s not be like those who are worshiping our idols under the trees, nothing but ruin lies that way.