To sum it up quickly, the rich and powerful were taking advantage of the poor and needy. Drought had affected the food supply, driving prices up; the people faced a mountain of debt, and were forced to further mortgage their homes and land just to pay the taxes. Sadly this came, for the most part, from the hands of their own countrymen.
The verse that really challenged me is verse 5. Take a moment to read it, and then read it again.
Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards.
The people were astounded by the treatment of fellow Jews toward them. They were of the same flesh; they had endured the same struggles; looking at their children there would have been little difference from the others. They felt betrayed by their own, sold out to the greed and selfishness of the prosperous.
Isn’t that tragic? We look on this account and wonder how these things could be, but I fear that many times we are guilty of the same. We have preconceived notions of whom God would save. We have a mold that we expect others to fit into; otherwise we don’t pay much attention to their needs. I pray that God will move us from our prejudices. Christ died for all, not just those of a particular skin color, social class, or intelligence. I pray that we will see others as God sees them, souls in need of salvation!
As I considered this, I wondered how God views our efforts. Who are we really trying to reach? We all have differences, with a unique appearance, but in reality we are all of the human race. Our precious Lord died for all, not just those who look or think like we do. I pray that God will move among us so that we will see others as He sees them. All are in need of salvation. Christ doesn't look upon the outward appearance or judge according to intellect or ability. He looks upon the heart. If we are to be what God has called us to be, we must seek to reach all people, not just those who fit our mold.
Just a few thoughts, but I genuinely pray that we will take them to heart. I rejoice that someone loved me enough to share the Gospel with me and there are many around us today that are waiting for someone to love them enough to share Jesus with them!