We see another vision of Judah here that isn’t very pleasant. Unfortunately, we don’t need to look very far to see some of the same things in our current day reality. I have often thought God must be terribly disappointed in his children. There is so much injustice. People seem to have turned away from God. Our faith has been diluted with attempts to be more “inclusive” and accepting of people. Many are consumed with loving themselves and “things” rather than loving God. It was true then, and it is true now.
It’s pretty clear from God’s message that he is furious. “I will take revenge on my enemies.” God sees his enemies as those who have rebelled, turned against him, and become thieves, murderers, and bribe takers. God is also speaking to those who have failed to care for the oppressed, the orphans and widows. This will be a theme we’ll see over and again. God is calling for people to care for and defend those who have a hard time caring for themselves. Then and now, people have broken their commitment to God and turned their affections elsewhere. How about you? Where do your affections lie?
The process for purifying metal is the image used of what God will do to his people. “I will melt you down and skim off your slag. I will remove all your impurities.” Do you know what slag is? I had to look it up. When melting down metal to purify it, there is a “gunky” substance that will float to the top called slag. When the slag is removed during this process, what is left is pure metal that you can see your reflection in. So then, when the “slag” is removed from our lives, our pure self remains. It is our hope that others can see Jesus living in us. I love that image of seeing Jesus in our reflection in the metal.
We learned in our last reading that God can make us clean. It’s not anything we do. It’s all about his grace. You can really see that God wants to give good things to his people after the impurities are removed. “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.” The people simply need to repent and turn back to God. Justice and mercy will follow. “Zion will be restored by justice; those who repent will be revived by righteousness.”
The future is not so bright for those who continue to rebel. It would seem the enticements of the world, those that last only for the here and now, are more appealing. Oh, that we should blush and be ashamed of our behaviors! We should know better. What about the many people who have no knowledge of God? You could say they don’t know any better. What about them? They are the ones we are to seek so we can share the Good News. It’s up to God to rescue the ones who have made their choice and turned away from him.
Do you find it hard to truly grasp what is happening here? God is talking to his people. How cool is that! He is revealing his thoughts, dreams, and expectations for his people. A little respect shouldn’t be that hard of a thing to ask, wouldn’t you agree? Yet, we, too, can often get off track with a mere nudge in the right direction. Look around today at your situation. Are you in the God camp as much as you’d like to be? Do you find yourself at odds with any of rebukes God makes here toward his people?
Let’s pray … Lord, forgive me for my tendency to get off track and put other things before you. I know you are there, and I know you are patient. Yet, I stumble regularly and need your grace. Help me be more intentional about spending time with you. I treasure this time and feel so bad when it doesn’t seem like the priority it is. I want to follow you as the leader of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.