God’s Vision of Justice in the Kingdom
Ezek. 45:9 ¶ Thus says the Lord GOD: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and do what is just and right. Cease your evictions of my people, says the Lord GOD.
Ezek. 45:10 ¶ You shall have honest balances, an honest ephah, and an honest bath.
Ezek. 45:11 The ephah and the bath shall be of the same measure, the bath containing one-tenth of a homer, and the ephah one-tenth of a homer; the homer shall be the standard measure.
Ezek. 45:12 The shekel shall be twenty gerahs. Twenty shekels, twenty-five shekels, and fifteen shekels shall make a mina for you.
Ezekiel is writing about the vision he has received from God regarding the new Jerusalem. This is a new kingdom where the old practices have been put away. In the new kingdom there is a sense of justice that is practiced at a level never seen before among the Israelites. No longer do the princes or rulers oppress their their people. Instead, their hearts are filled with a desire to rule justly in the kingdom. There will be no evictions and the princes will deal honestly in all business matters. The princes, or rulers, are reflections of God’s leadership here on earth and therefore their character must reflect God’s character and God is honest and just!
This last summer I traveled through Germany and England on a trip as we studied the Reformation and the life of John Wesley. In one of the old German towns we had a guide taking us through the city square. There on one of the buildings was a measuring rod built into the foundation. This was the official measure of length for this city and all measuring was to be done to this scale. The rod existed in this public place so that if you bought something you could bring it over to the wall and measure to see whether the person who sold it to you was honest or not. On the wall, next to the measuring rod was an iron ring that was attached to the wall. This was used to punish the cheating salespersons for they were tied up to the ring and left connected to the wall, next to the measuring rod where the people of the community came and pummeled them with rotten vegetables as their punishment. The use and abuse of dishonest scales and measuring devices was considered a huge crime against the entire society.
God is telling the people of Israel that they are to rule justly for this is the vision of the coming kingdom. Very specifically it is mentioned that they are to have honest balances, and honest ephath, and an honest bath. The princes were to feed their flocks — not fleece them — which was so often the case. To have an honest balance meant that you had to have an honest weight to balance those scales. If someone wanted to buy a pound of meat, a pound weight would be placed on side of the scale and when the meat balanced the weight, you knew you had a pound. However, if you wanted to cheat the people your balance weight could be just a little less than what it should be. So people learned how to cheat and get more from people all because they intentionally had weights of the wrong amount.
The ephah was a place to measure dry substances like grains. Something like a bushel. The bath was a liquid measure. Again, this entire system worked when the leaders were honest and were not trying to make extra money off of their people — but this had not been the case. The leaders were not acting justly, but instead were stealing from their very own people by unjust means. This was never to happen again in the new kingdom.
Today we are invited to live in the new kingdom — in the already of the kingdom which is with us now. If we are to be a reflection of God’s character and nature to the world then we are to be a people who act justly. Our behavior is a reflection of God. This means that we are honest in all of our business dealings — completely transparent and we never take advantage of anyone, nor of our position. God was speaking to the princes because, obviously, they had taken advantage of the people before, becoming rich while their people were poor. They lived in bigger houses while their people lost their jobs and homes.
Today we are God’s reflection to the world. We are to be a reflection of this vision of justice in the kingdom. May we never succumb to the temptation of adjusting the scales just a little bit in our own direction, or of changing the size of the measuring stick to our advantage. If we do we may find the image of Christ tarnished when she is tied to the wall and the surrounding villagers pummel us with rotten vegetables. May God help us to be his reflection of honesty and transparency in all that we do for this is the vision of a people living in the kingdom.
Lord, please help me to live before you and your people honestly and justly. Amen.