Jeremiah 7:5-8 ESV “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, (6) if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, (7) then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever. (8) “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.
Listen to Matthew Henry’s comment on these verses. The underlining is mine:
Those that had power in their hands must thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, without partiality, and according as the merits of the case appeared. They must not either in judgment or in contract oppress the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor countenance or protect those that did oppress, nor refuse to do them justice when they sought for it. [Matthew Henry, Commentary on Jeremiah]
We all know that abusers and other evildoers work very hard to gather allies for themselves. And frankly, in local churches, they don’t have to work all that hard to accomplish this. We have firsthand testimony time after time after time of how a pastor, other church leaders, or church members did exactly what the Lord is commanding Jeremiah’s countrymen to repent of. They do countenance (approve) of these wicked people and protect them from judgment.
It is not enough to not oppress the innocent. We must also stand with them against those who oppress them. We must work to see that justice is done. And if we don’t, the same fate that the unrepentant people in Jeremiah’s day met will be waiting for us. God cast them out of the land. He turned them over to the enemy. And all of that is a picture and warning of what is going to happen when Christ comes to judge the earth in righteousness.
Every local church, every professing Christian, every author of “marriage and family” books who is giving safe harbor to abusers, to hypocrites, or to anyone who oppresses the downtrodden and innocent, had better seriously heed these warnings now. Do not fancy yourself having some “get out of hell free” card simply because your false teachers are teaching you to repeat after them, “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”