God challenges Jeremiah to find a single honest man on the streets of Jerusalem (5:1), anticipating the search of Diogenes in the Greek world. Even one such person wold have been enough, according to God, to forestall judgment on the city. But of course that is another way of saying how slippery the moral life of the city had become, how extensive the sin was, how insincerity and moral corrosion had damaged the city's children.Carson ends by asking, "How many of these elements are playing out today?"
Initially Jeremiah thinks that perhaps the negative results of his search could be laid at the door of the disadvantages of the lower classes. Of course, even the poor were supposed to know and keep the Law of God, but it is compassionate to make allowances. So Jeremiah goes off to examine the sophisticated, the privileged, the articulate--and finds no less moral rot there than elsewhere (5:4-5). Intelligent sinners use their intelligence to sin; sophisticated sinners concoct sophisticated reasons for thinking their sin is not sin; upper-crust sinners indulge in upper-crust sin. "But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn the bonds" (5:5).
It's a good question, and one that perhaps we don't consider enough as preachers and Christians. Doesn't it seem that the implicit assumption toward the wealthy is that they're spiritually and morally 'okay' while the poor are obviously the ones with the spiritual problems. Sometimes we might even think the poor are poor because they're spiritually bankrupt. We diagnose 'white collar' and 'blue collar' crime, as though they weren't both examples of coveting, thievery, and "spiritual rot" as Carson calls it.
This'll preach: "Intelligent sinners use their intelligence to sin; sophisticated sinners concoct sophisticated reasons for thinking sin is not sin; upper-crust sinners indulge in upper-crust sin."
And doesn't the Bible tell us it's the rich that exploit and oppress us? Why our love affair with wealth, and our willing complicity with their sin?
The rich man in his comforts takes an air-conditioned ride toward hell. And the poor man in his misery suffers on his way to the same flames.
We need preaching and pastoral practice that isn't deceived by riches, but speaks the truth to power so that all--rich and poor--might be saved.
Quote from For the Love of God, Volume 2.