Justice? I just don’t get it…

The Equalizer

“Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer!”

Leverage

“The rich and powerful take what they want. We steal it back for you.”

The Shadow

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

Superman

“The never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.”

Underdog

“Never fear, Underdog is here!”

Even Underdog! Then there’s the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, Green Hornet, Red Rider, Zorro… not to mention my all-time favorite, the A-Team.

What do all these have in common? The demand for justice. Fairness. “What’s fair is fair.” Because people know what is right, what is fair, what is equitable.

From the very beginning, they knew that some things were wrong. Like killing, stealing, lying, destroying.

How did they know? They were created to know, and they were given to know. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8)

Along the way (beginning in the Garden), God’s definitions of right and wrong were questioned, then perverted by some. And people still cry out for justice, as they have from the beginning. God himself said that Abel’s blood cried out from the ground (Genesis 4:10). The perversion of justice demanded a penalty – death. (Genesis 2:17, Romans 6:23)

The oldest of civilizations devised codes of laws and systems of justice, attempting to get back to the beginning, to the Garden, perhaps.

Back in the 1980’s when Tim and I first got involved in politics, an irate woman shouted at us in a meeting, “You can’t legislate morality!” She was angry at our stances on various issues. Especially our pro-life stances. (We were actively, vocally opposed to removing the pro-life plank from the state and national Republican Party platforms.)

“Sure you can,” I answered, when I could get a word in. “That’s what legislation does.The question is, whose morality are you going to legislate?” I may not have persuaded her that day, but I hope she thought more about my question. Whose morality? Whose justice?

In the scriptures, the words justice and righteousness come from the same root word. Justice is a principle and a system of right and wrong as defined by the Creator. Righteousness is a state of being right in God’s eyes, in his opinion.

God gets to define “right,” and he gets to decide who is right. (When the word is translated justice, another word – judgment – is often found in that verse, meaning the decision and legal declaration of justice.)

Is justice always doing the right thing, never doing the wrong thing? But I couldn’t live up to that standard, no matter how hard I tried. So then, what is justice, to God? What is righteousness?

“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) Hebrews 11 lists the “Heroes of Faith,” men and women who believed what God said to them and thus were considered righteous by God.

Now, I believe, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Cor. 5:21). Jesus took the penalty of sin, instead of me.

Consider:

  • Having their conscience seared as with a hot iron – I Timothy 4:2
  • Having their senses exercised to discern good and evil – Hebrews 5:14
  • Let justice roll – Amos 5:24
  • There is none good but God – Matthew 19:17
  • There is none righteous – Romans 3:10
  • Vengeance is mine, I will repay, said the Lord – Romans 12:19.

And he did. Jesus got the penalty in my place, satisfied God’s requirements of justice, and I get his grace instead.

Let justice roll on like a river! Is that your prayer? Really?

AmosMinor Prophets – not minor.

Some time ago I started reading the minor prophets. (Minor in this case indicates short, not of lesser importance.)

I was reading Mark’s gospel one morning when the Lord interrupted my reading.

“Have you considered Amos lately?”

Of course, he already knew that I hadn’t. So, I turned to that Old Testament book and started reading. It didn’t take long to finish, but it was serious reading.

When I had finished that book, he spoke again. “Habakkuk?” And so I read that next one.

Over the next few weeks came Joel, Jonah, Obadiah, Hosea, Nahum, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah.

It was a sobering process. There is such a disturbing similarity between the behavior patterns that led to the downfall of Israel and the behavior patterns – cultural, social and political – in the United States today.

Prophet after prophet warned the people to turn back to God; to repent, to get rid of false idols, to return to worshiping the only true God.

If they didn’t? Well, God’s patience was running out and disaster was going to happen when it did.

Foreign powers would invade, conquer and carry off the people of God into far-away lands. They would be enslaved. He would punish those invaders as well, but first he would use them to turn back the hearts of the people to God.

But the people didn’t listen. And so Israel was invaded, was conquered, and the people of God were carried off into far-away lands. Enslaved.

Here’s a passage from Amos Chapter 5 about The Day of the Lord:

  • Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light.
  • It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.
  • Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
  • I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.
  • Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
  • Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
  • But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

(Amos 5:18-24)