Reading: Jeremiah 23: 1-6
Bad kings have been the norm. They have been unfaithful to God and have not insured justice and fair treatment for the people. These bad kings instead have lived extravagant lives and have exploited the people to do so. Having a king was the people’s idea. Previously God had been their king, but they wanted a human king. They wanted to be just like all the pagan nations around them. Put that way it sounds like such a bad idea. But the people would not quit asking so God finally relented and allowed them to have a human king.
As ever the God of second chances, instead of allowing the people (and later us) to suffer for their poor request, God brings news of a different king. God does not punish the nation – the poor lambs have suffered enough already. Instead God promises them a king who will “reign wisely”, a king who will do what is “just and right in the land”. For a people who have been suffering for quite a while, this promise brings hope.
Today we do not have kings so much as systems. True, we will soon have a new President, but he can only do so much on his own. The President must work with Congress and within the confines of many systems already in place. Yes, the systems can be changed, but this is very often a long and slow process. Many people live within systems – medicare, social security, health care, prisons, education, foster care, reservations. Many long for equality and justice and for things to be made right again. Many long to be freed from the system in which they feel trapped. Many need to see and experience hope.
The same king that was promised in Jeremiah 23 is the king who can bring hope to all people. With hope, Jesus brings peace, compassion, and love. Jesus may not directly fix these broken systems, but He can fix broken people. May we, as the people of God, bring Jesus’ light and love and hope into the world, ever seeking to build the kingdom of God here on earth.