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The Senatorial by-election

Thus says the LORD: (1) do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, (2) do not let the mighty boast in their might, (3) do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but (4) let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the LORD; I act with (A) steadfast love, (B) justice and (C) righteousness in the earth, for in these things (A, B and C) I delight, says the LORD.    Jeremiah 9: 23-24 [c. 620 BC, Jerusalem, Israel]


Last week the all-island election took place for a single vacancy on the Senatorial benches of the States of Jersey. The votes cast, of course, indicated the level of support of the voting electorate for each candidate.


But an interesting question is, “What particular attributes were the voters seeking?” Was there something about, say, the two with the most votes (Francis Le Gresley and Stuart Syvret – no relative) that would point to an answer to that question? Think about it.


Take a look at the attributes in the words in bold above – all six of them. The first three are attributes that folk, deep down, strongly desire to make it abundantly clear to others that they possess. (1) Wisdom. (2) Power. (3) Wealth. But, although we want folk to understand that we have these we don’t want to blow our own trumpets. Hence these attributes are not placed on election manifestos. Indeed, moving north to look at the recent UK election, David Cameron and George Osborne have been playing down their privileged beginnings.


Coming back to the two who topped the Senatorial poll in Jersey, could it be that the 9,135 voters who cast in their favour were actually seeking something other than (1), (2) and (3) above. In particular could they have been seeking something in the second section of the words in bold above? (A) Steadfast love. (B) Justice. (C) Righteousness.


Of those three, (A), (B) or (C), it could well be that (B) was the attribute that folk really wished to find in making their select of one (only one) from the nine who put themselves forward. (B) Justice. What do you think?

And another thought. Would an election candidate who had acted always with “steadfast love of Jersey and its people” get your vote? And what about a candidate who always acted with “justice towards all in Jersey irrespective of anything else”? And one whose actions showed delight in “righteousness in all aspects of Jersey’s government and laws”?


The words in bold above were recorded around 610 BC – 2,620 years ago and have been preserved in the national archives of the Jewish people because they recorded what was so central to them for over 2000 years: the LORD God Almighty’s actions with them as his chosen people.


In 620 BC this chosen race of Israel was facing the possibility of annihilation by world powers surrounding them on all sides: Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. They were a mere pawn to those empires.


The LORD had an awful message for Israel, a message that would indeed materialise. They were to be (almost completely) wiped out, because of their failures to live up to their privileges as the chosen people of God. The message came through Jeremiah – hence his nickname “the weeping prophet”.


So the words in bold came as light in a terribly dark place......


That meant that the (A- steadfast love) (B - justice) (C- righteousness) attributes of the LORD became real. In BC 609, 605, 586 and 584, crises arose that were all negative. Finally, events in BC 584 left only a tiny remnant in a demolished Jerusalem. Temple and city walls and buildings were in the dust. Virtually all the people were on their way to labour camps and exile. The nation was finished.


Yes, (C – righteousness) is double-edged. Yes, Israeli folk found that (B – justice) is for me as well as others.


But, most important of all, (A – steadfast love) of the LORD is indeed steadfast because in BC 0, a baby was born in Bethlehem who would later demonstrate this steadfast love not only for Jews but also for all humankind who would turn and embrace that steadfast love and justice and righteousness.

 ‘Justice is the greatest interest of man on earth.’ (Daniel Webster, American statesman, 1782-1852)
‘Justice always makes mercy dumb when sin has made the sinner deaf.’ (Thomas Brooks, preacher and author, 1608-1680)
Richard Syvret

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