My friend Meredith posted this verse on her blog yesterday. I’m still gripped by it:
For this is what the Lord says about Shallum, son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah but has gone from this place: “He will never return. He will die in the place where they have led him captive; he will not see this land again.”
“Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his countrymen work for nothing, not paying them for their labor. He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.’ So he makes large windows in it, panels it with cedar and decorates it in red.”
“Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father (referring to Josiah) have food and drink? He (Josiah) did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He (Josiah) defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord.
“But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.” Jeremiah 22:11-17
Sallum had not followed the ways of his father, Josiah. He lived a life of greed, of making a place for himself, of treading on others to build up his own kingdom, of shedding of innocent blood, and oppressing and extorting the poor and the needy.
Many times in scripture when the Lord points out a negative example, he juxtaposes it next to an example of righteousness. Look at what he says of Josiah. “He defended the cause of the poor and needy and ALL WENT WELL!!!.
What I am really sobered by this morning is what follows: “Is that not what it means to know me?”
Oh, Lord I want to be one that knows you. I want to lay aside all self-seeking and any foolish attempts to build my own kingdom. I want to be after the things that are on your heart.