October 23, 2021

Listen for the Cries for Justice - The Book of James Bible Series


Hello, Sweet Readers!  I bet you thought I forgot about you!  Or gave up... but look - here we are, nearing the end of October and we are digging into Chapter FIVE!!!  We've almost made it! We can do this!

I hope you have been getting a lot out of going through this Book ever so slowly this year. Verse by verse, precept upon precept... I hope things have both encouraged and challenged you, as they have me!  Who's ready for chapter five?



"Listen all you who are rich, for it’s time to weep and howl over the misery that will overtake you! Your riches lie rotting, your fine clothing eaten by moths, and your gold and silver are corroded as a witness against you. You have hoarded up treasure for the last days but it will become a fire to burn your flesh. Listen! Can’t you hear the cries of the laborers over the wages you fraudulently held back from those who worked for you? The cries for justice of those you’ve cheated have reached the ears of the Lord of armies!

You have indulged yourselves with every luxury and pleasure this world offers, but you’re only stuffing your heart full for a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered good and innocent people who had no power to defend themselves." (The Passion Translation)

Oh yeah... James can be - uh - a bit much! 

James again calls out to the wealthy and tells them it's time now to weep and howl over the misery that will overtake them. Fun times. 
The Aramaic word for misery here can refer to demonic torment. Again... super fun. 

Remember, these Chapter breaks are not in the original letter, so if we back up just a verse or two, we'll recall that James was talking about making plans without really consulting God and he was addressing those who know the right thing to do but aren't doing it and how that is sin to them. So it's a natural progression to go from missing opportunities to do good, to talking about the rich who maybe enjoy their wealth and the luxury it buys without taking the opportunities presented to them to do said (or implied) good. 

We live in America and much of what brings people from all over the globe to our shores is the promise of trying to attain the American Dream.  Listen - we are a consumer-based culture and we want all the things... but it turns out the Dream of our Father is freedom, not independence and those two things are not always the same thing!  We are called to a Family --grafted into One Body... we are supposed to take care of each other! Not in a mandated, socialist kind of way --but in a Love One Another, be like Jesus kind of way!

For much longer than I have been alive, the masses have been taken advantage of and served the elite.  Jesus - the King of the World - came to show us a different way! So, honestly: "The cries for justice of those you’ve cheated have reached the ears of the Lord of armies!" This should strike fear only in the hearts of the ones who know this is what they have done... what they continue to do!

Cheaters and Liars, man.  It can feel like they will just always get away with it --but James assures us that our cries of injustice... our cries FOR justice... they do not go unheard.  

I truly believe that this is the day and hour that we will see more and more of these verses come into play!  Again - God is so much smarter than me and I could not have planned the timing of this study. But He knew... He knows... 


Next, let's read our verses in The Voice:

"Hey, you rich folk, misery is on its way; so cry and moan because you will watch your riches rot before your eyes as the moths devour your fine clothes. Your stockpile of silver and gold is tarnished and corroded, and this rust will stand up in the final judgment and testify against you. It will eat your flesh like fire and become a permanent and painful reminder that you have hoarded your wealth through these last days. Listen. You held back a just wage from the laborers who mowed your fields, and that money is crying out against you, demanding that justice be done. The cries of the people who harvested your crops and made you a profit have fallen upon the ears of the supreme Lord of heavenly armies. Your life on the earth has been one of luxury, pleasure, and endless consumption; you have feasted to your hearts’ content on animals you slaughtered, but now the day of slaughter comes for you. You have condemned and murdered the righteous man, and he did not defend himself." (The Voice)

(Does anyone else picture King George from Hamilton The Musical here?)

For a long time, there have been cries for Justice... God, who is a God of Justice is also the same God who said He desires Mercy over Judgment.  Man, He is so patient and so kind.

For many years we have been pressing into the fact that He is a Good, Good Father because somehow that got twisted and lost in translation and for too long we thought He was an angry God.  This was a much-needed course correction. However, I fear in our awakening to His great Love and Kindness, we have made Him to be just like us... and in our getting to know Him more, we have maybe become too familiar with Him. Too casual... too 'No Worries -Jesus is Grace and Love' and 'He's cool, man.'

And He is! He IS all of those things... 
   but He is also Just!

      (Something about Great and Greatly to be Feared!)


Lastly, my favorite translation: The Message Bible:

"And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.

All the workers you’ve exploited and cheated cry out for judgment. The groans of the workers you used and abused are a roar in the ears of the Master Avenger. You’ve looted the earth and lived it up. But all you’ll have to show for it is a fatter than usual corpse. In fact, what you’ve done is condemn and murder perfectly good persons, who stand there and take it." (The Message Bible)

It's no secret that I adore Eugene Peterson and his work in translating The Message Bible. I love how he pinpoints who James is really talking to here.  It's not just the rich! We know, of course, it is not a sin to be rich.  However, to be arrogant and rich - well, now. It seems James is calling for some self-awareness and repentance... and some lament just may be in order! If you find your salvation and security, your identity and importance, in your bank account rather than your Bible -well, James is talking to you, here.

We know, right, that there is more to life than the pursuit of the American Dream... more to life than a big house, cars, college paid for, vacations, designer clothes, etc.  None of those things are bad... but in all our getting, let's get Wisdom from on High and let's let Love lead us... let's live together - not pushing each other down as we climb and claw to the top, but rather lift each other up as we fight for the bottom!


Let's pray: 

Father God, We come before You today so thankful! Thankful for Your great love and mercy. Thankful for the way You bless and for the way You give us every opportunity to choose right... to do good.  Lord, we thank You that the cries for Justice do not fall on deaf ears... they do not go unheard or - eventually - unacted upon! Thank You, Jesus, that You are a God of Justice and Mercy --for we need both!

For the times we have been rich - and unaware... and have missed chances to do good with our money or influence, Lord we repent.  Forgive us and wake us up to open doors and invitations in the future!  

For the ways we have become hardened, prideful, or arrogant -- Lord, we ask for Holy Spirit Conviction.  Help us to humble ourselves, Lord.  Help us to remember that You are God and we are not.  That EVERY good and perfect gift comes from You and is showered down on us through Your Hands.  Help us to hold on to things loosely, but to cling to You with all our strength!

Thank You Jesus that we are seen and known and protected in Your and by Your Blood. You are our Redeemer and Provider and we trust You, oh Lord! We trust You to lead and guide us into all that You have for us.  Hold our hearts close and show us how to be the Body and the Bride more and more and more!

For the King and His Kingdom,
In Jesus' Name!

I would LOVE to hear some feedback from you, Sweet Readers!  What did you think of this portion of Scripture?

Thinking of the whole study so far, what has stood out to you or stuck with you the most?  What have you learned or noticed in this study of James that you hadn't really realized or knew before?

Until next time,

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