No justice in new Jerusalem
God doesn’t have short arms1
The LORD’s arm isn’t short,
Too short to reach out and save you.
He’s not hard of hearing, either.
It stands there between you and God.
So, God turns away from you.
He stops listening.
3Your hands are covered in the filth of crime.
Your fingers drip with blood.
Your flapping lips lie
And your tongue betrays.
4No one sues for justice.
No one pleads with honestly
Everyone leans on their lies.
Everyone stirs trouble and makes a mess.
Jews hatch viper eggs for a living5
The troubles they hatch are eggs of a venomous snake.
The mess they weave is a spiderweb.
Eat those eggs, you die.
Crack open an egg, out comes a viper.
They won’t cover up a thing.
Spinning lies like this is nothing but a sin.
You break the law when you hurt others.
7You chase evil like it’s a prize to catch.
You’re always in a rush to bleed the innocent.
Plans you make are good for nothing but trouble.
Wherever you go, you take injury and destruction.
You’re a wreck on the side of the road.
8Peace means nothing to you.
Justice isn’t your way of life.
You walk a crooked path
In a world without a glimmer of peace.
Israel talks back to God9
For us, justice is a long stretch away.
Rescue isn’t an option.
We stand in the darkness and wait for the light.
Hope for the brightness and get nothing but bleak.
We stumble at noon like it’s twilight.
In a crowd of people busy with life
We hang around like we’re dead.
11We growl like lonely bears
And we moan like doves.
We wait for justice,
And we hope for victory
Against all odds.
12We know that we sinned.
We did it a lot.
We’re guilty as sin.
We know it, admit it. We get it.
We know every one of our sins.
13We turned our backs on the LORD.
We walked away from our God.
We lived a life committing fraud,
And betraying people we knew.
14Justice fled on a full retreat.
Rescue is a long reach away.
Truth steps into the public square
And falls flat on its face.
Goodness isn’t allowed here,
Banned from the town in disgrace.
Truth gets a hard push back.
Honest people get trashed.
He wasn’t happy
Because justice was nowhere around.
16He couldn’t find anyone willing to help,
Though he looked long and hard through the land.
So, he took it upon himself to make things right.
Through the power he had in his hands.
17Dressing for battle he put on victory
Like a warrior’s coat of mail.
He wore a rescuer’s helmet,
Clothes of vengeance,
And a robe of fury and strength.
18The LORD gives his enemies
A dose of their medicine,
Payback for what they have done.
He’ll make things right with those enemies
From coastlands to far from the sea.
19Lands in the west
Will fear the mere name of the LORD.
In the east
They’ll fear him coming in power.
For he’ll rush in on them like a flash flood
Riding a windstorm.
20But he’s coming to rescue Jerusalem,
To save any Jews willing to stop sinning.
This message comes from the LORD.
21The LORD says, “This is my covenant agreement with the people. I’m giving you my Spirit. And I’m giving you my word. This promise is yours forever. I’m giving it to you and to your children and grandchildren and to the generations to come. I am the LORD and this is what I’ve said.”
The writer doesn’t give us the setting. Some scholars speculate this addresses the first communities of Jews to return to Jerusalem after Persian King Cyrus freed them from the Babylonian exile and told them to go home and rebuild Jerusalem. The Jews were slow to return in large numbers because they had been in Babylon (Iraq) for 50 years. It was all the home many had ever known. Back in Jerusalem, the early arrivals may have felt abandoned because the land remained desolate and in ruins. Babylonian invaders in 586 BC had leveled Jerusalem, its walls, and the Temple.
There’s a change of voice at this point. The Jewish people, perhaps in the writer’s envisioned response, reacts to what they’ve just heard from God.
Growling like bears and moaning like doves are expressions of sadness and mourning.
Lands in the east along the Mediterranean Sea coast included the Jewish homelands of the former nations of Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Those two nations had earlier existed as one. They split after King Solomon died around 931 BC.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.