I’m sure you can recall it. You know. That moment in life, maybe it is happening right now, maybe it happened a month ago, maybe it happened years ago. That moment of real injustice in your life. That moment of angst, where life is not as it should be, and you know a little about who or what is causing it to be so, but you are powerless to do much to change the situation. Yes! That moment. I’m fairly certain we can all recall a time like this.
If that moment was some time ago, have you been able to look back and see how that situation has possibly changed over time? Especially, if you cried out to God to end the injustice and bring change — have you been able to see how God has responded to that situation, as time has passed?
Jeremiah 39:10 captures such a moment, “…Nebuzaradan the [Babylonian] commander of the guard left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people, who owned nothing; and at that time he gave them vineyards and fields.” It is an easy line to overlook, amidst the chaos going on in the surrounding verses — as the people of Judah are being ransacked by Babylon and some killed, and many shipped to other lands.
If you recall many years before this time, the prophets have spent many words, actions, and ridicule to highlight the injustice that was occurring among the people of God, by the people of God. In various ways the people of God — in their pursuit of lifestyles and choices, other than what the LORD God desired and called them to — caused many in their society to be in want and be kept from a qualitative life.
And, as much as the prophets repetitively called the people of God away from their oppressive ways, the people did not listen. Instead, they went-on enjoying their opulent lives, at the expense of others. The oppressed cried out, and nothing seemed to change. The oppressors got away with injustice and the oppressed remained oppressed. Or, so it seemed.
That is, until now. Now, many of those who were the oppressors, were not being oppressed by the Babylonians that God allowed to ransack Judah. Many of these people were killed, or violently taken away from their homes and moved to another land and culture.
But, tucked-away in this violent overthrow is this little glimmer of hope for some of those who were oppressed not so long ago (granted, in all honesty, we still have to wrestle with how to grasp this hopeful response in light of what happens to other who are poor, cf. Jeremiah 52:14-16).
God has been paying attention to the cries of these oppressed. The work of the prophets has not been in vain. God’s character is proved true. He is a comforter and provider of the oppressed.
In a very backwards, upside-down kind of way, God provides for some of the oppressed of the Judah. But, we should not be surprised. God has this uncanny way of turning the most messed-up situation into both judgment for one side and a form of blessing for another — ultimately making his justice and good oversight known.
Ultimately, we see this play-out most clearly in the life of his Son, Jesus. Jesus was oppressed, even to death. And, in the most messed-up situation, God simultaneously doles out judgment against sin and death, and brings the blessing of resurrected life . In the most unlikely, insignificant way — through death — God brings about the possibility of eternal life for all people.
As much as Jeremiah 39:10 gives us hope that God hears our cries of injustice and, in his wisdom and timing, comes to our rescue — it is also a preview of the most pivotal cry of injustice, as Jesus was hanging on the cross saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!”; and a preview of the most pivotal provision given to Jesus, the oppressed — resurrected life as he clung to his Father in heaven.
Jeremiah 39:10 is yet another reason to praise God. He does not ignore our cries of injustice. Rather, he hears them, and acts — according to his wisdom, timing, and good will. To that we can surely say, “let it be so!’ (aka, ‘Amen!’)