The constant cry of God as it is heard throughout the Prophet Jeremiah is “You have forsaken me.” (Jer. 16: 11; 1:18; 2:17, 19; 5:7, 19; 9:13; 17:13, 19:4 . . .). It is the heart cry of the LORD who saved the people from horrible forms of slavery, and many disasters. It is the heart cry of a Husband, who rescues his bride, time and again. Yet, the people choose to make their own gods and goddesses, which enable them to commit many acts of injustice against lower class people- the poor, the widow, and the orphan. Despite this God says, “I will remain faithful to you, and bring you back to the land. I will not forsake you.” (Jer. 16:15).
It is crucial to realize that when the people created and espoused false deities and religions, they were not just committing injustices against the common people. They were also desecrating “the holy land of God.” (Jer. 16:18). In the book of Jeremiah, and in the rest of the Bible, human rights violations and environmental degradation are intrinsically related. Therefore, the land, the environment, vomits them out (Lev. 18:25).
In John 6, Jesus addresses this issue of human and environmental degradation squarely. He does this in the context of the Passover (John 6:4). He encounters hundreds of hungry people-hungry because of the poverty which society had brought upon them. Jesus blessed the Passover bread, and feeds the poor multitude. This was an amazing miracle. In doing so, Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of the Prophet Jeremiah, who prophesied that in the last days the Messiah would bring about healing- healing to people who are suffering, and healing to the land. This is what the miracle of the feeding of the hundreds of people signified. Lest people turn this miracle into a superficial mundane thing, Jesus said, “I AM the bread of life. He who comes to me shall not hunger. He who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). He is the only one who can bring about true miraculous healing to society and to the environment, which human beings have desecrated and destroyed.
Rev. Dr. R. Boaz Johnson, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies