76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 53 - Jeremiah’s ideal of democracy.
August 1st, 1961
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
There remains to tell of Jeremiah’s democratic ideals that amaze one even to this day. For the prophet’s most important concept, aside from the moral and religious standpoint, is one that enters into the framework of the broader aspects of human living, the ideal of democracy and equality.
For at the time (588-587 B.C.) when Hophra entered Palestine to wage war against Babylonia and when Zedekiah joined Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar, as I said, turned away from his siege of Jerusalem to meet the Egyptian host. During the siege, when the situation looked dark, the Judean slave owners went into the Temple with the sacrifice of a lamb. These slave owners were the princes of the royal house and other aristocratic and wealthy people of the area. They released the Hebrew slaves as an appeasement to a God who demanded justice for His people, regardless of their economic status, in order to enlist God’s Help in saving His capital from destruction.
But as soon as Nebuchadrezzar raised the siege to meet the Egyptians, Zedekiah and his ruling class saw no reason why they should adhere to the covenant thus agreed to in the holy precincts of the Temple, and forced the bondsmen and women back into slavery through armed might and violence. This was moral degradation to an extraordinary degree, inasmuch as the liberation had been proclaimed as a religious measure, as I said, to obtain God’s Aid by an act of justice. But as soon as these rulers saw the hand of the Lord, apparently stretched out to protect them, they repudiated the terms on which the raising of the siege had been in their minds granted. In short, they went back on their bargain with the Lord, and committed a breach of faith with Him. Such a contemptible procedure merited a stinging denunciation and Jeremiah spoke out, proclaiming the equality of human beings and democracy for all:
“Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel… ye were now turned, and had done that which is right in Mine eyes, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbor; and ye had made a covenant before Me In the house wherein My Name is called; and ye turned and profaned My Name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom ye had let go at their pleasure, to return; and ye brought them into subjection. Therefore thus saith the Lord: Ye have not hearkened unto Me, to proclaim liberty, every man to his brother, and every man to his neighbor; behold I proclaim for you a liberty, saith the Lord, unto the sword, unto the pestilence and unto the famine; and I will make you a horror unto all the kingdoms of the earth.”
(Jeremiah 34: 13 - 17)
These sermons have only touched on some of the highlights and episodes in the stormy prophetic career of Jeremiah ben Hilkiah. In the forty years or more of his preaching, and working for the elevation of the morals and ethics of his people, there were many situations he faced which were similar to the ones which confronted me these many centuries later. We both predicted destruction of the Temple and were brought to trial or, at least a hearing in my case, for our statements. We were both beaten while under arrest, and we both lost our mortal lives due to the violence of the opposition group - in both cases, the aristocratic and priestly party. In both cases we favored peace and submission to the overlord nations of our times, the Babylonians and the Romans, respectively. Jeremiah, of course, witnessed the last stand against Nebuchadnezzar, in 586 B.C., and beheld the destruction of the Temple and the razing of the city walls, and it is possible that I would have seen the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus in 70 A.D., had I not been cut down two generations earlier. And as Jeremiah first predicted the coming of the New Covenant, so was I the first to bring that Covenant - the New Birth with the availability of the Father’s Love - to fulfillment, and the opening up of the Celestial Heavens to whosoever should seek and possess this Love through earnest prayer to God.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens