The Bible Project has produced a few theme videos and this one about justice helps in understanding the plea God is making here:
“Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.” (7:5-7)
Israel seemed to be under the impression that since they were God’s people, keepers of His temple, they were automatically blessed, could do whatever they wanted and get away with murder. It’s easy to recognize this idea, because it’s tempting for those of us, in the New Covenant, to treat grace that way.
But God says, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.” (7:23) Obedience is key.
Now is always the time to stop fooling ourselves. The way we treat each other matters. We are not the children of God so we can feel superior to everyone and do as we please.
Another reason it matters, is because the world is watching. The LORD is always reminding Israel that He does things for His name sake. Israel was giving the LORD a bad name, and that can’t happen. Now, it seems God has a bad name because of Christians. Not an every place, or circumstance, but it does happen.
Whether we like it or not, people are making decisions about what they think about God based on our actions. What does your life say about God? What does my life say about God?
Someone once told me, “when you compare yourself to others you always lose. You either make yourself out to be more or less and neither is Christ.” Let’s be people who lift others up. Not because we are so cool, and up high, but because they are made in God’s image, just as we are.