INTRODUCTION – Why a series (2 or 3 Sundays) on justice?
1. Because – like marriage – the concept of justice has been corrupted and twisted by those who claim to represent God, but in fact do not know Him. Some who speak of justice today do not claim to represent God, but do claim to have a corner on the truth regarding justice. One of the more recent local examples of this is the letter written to the editor of the Tribune a few months ago re: the Boy Scouts. One of the primary reasons letters and positions like this are allowed to be stated and proclaimed with little response or rebuttal is because the church, which is supposed to be the pillar and support of the truth has not – by and large – taught on the topic of justice, and discipled its people to carry it out as a lifestyle. We need to band together and do our part to turn this around.
2. One of my assignments for the task force I became a member of in the conference in Dallas on City Transformation back in September was to present a biblical theology on the topic of justice (along with the unity of the church and a biblical theology of cities). I’ve already sent off the unity and cities papers. But I just started the justice ones this week, and so it seemed appropriate to share some of these truths with you.
One thing is crystal clear after surveying every reference to justice, injustice and the word just in the Bible over these last several days – – God’s people from the time of Abraham to the present were expected to carry out justice in their communities and beyond. We are going to spend some time wrestling with that call or mandate in the coming weeks. But before we do that – we must start with God or else we will end up being part of the problem instead of part of the solution.
Four major truths that we must be grounded in to be able to be His instruments to bring about justice in our society.
I. God is Just & is our standard of Justice
A. Deut. 32:4 Ch. 32 of Deuteronomy finds Moses near the end of his life. He had just commissioned Joshua to replace him as leader of the Israelites. He had commissioned the Levites to place the law that he had just finished writing into the ark of the covenant. And then he proceeded to rebuke Israel for their rebellion and stubbornness. Then as if painting a sharp contrast between them and God, Moses in Deut. 32:4 spoke of God this way, “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”
B. Nehemiah 9:33 Nehemiah, towards the end of his life and leadership of the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, got alone with God and poured out his heart to Him – confessing his sins and the sins of his people – and again painting a sharp contrast – said of God – “However, You are just in all that has come upon us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.”
C. Psalm 89:14; 97:2 Both Psalm 89:14 & 97:2 declare that “…Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne.” In other words anything and everything He ever says or does will be characterized or birthed out of His inherent righteousness and justice. He can only act justly.
D. Psalm 111:7 “The works of His hands are truth and justice; All His precepts are sure.”
E. Proverbs 16:11 “A just balance and scales belong to the Lord; All the weights of the bag are His concern.” God sees every angle of every issue; He doesn’t focus on one thing at the exclusion of another.
F. Isa. 30:18 “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”
G. Isa. 33:5, “The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.” 40:14 “With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?” In other words, God is the very source of justice. It originates with Him. ; 51:4 “Pay attention to Me, O my people, And give ear to Me, O My nation; For a law will go forth from Me, And I will set my justice for a light of the peoples.”
H. Romans 9:14 “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!” This of course is in the context of His dealing with Israel and with the Gentiles. (Don’t read I Peter 3:18)
I. I Peter 3:18 “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
To recap – God is just and is our standard of justice. Any discussion of this topic must start with Him.
II. God executes justice in the earth & delights in our knowing Him as such
A. Deut. 10:17,18 “FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS THE GOD of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.”
B. Psalm 140;12 King David said with great confidence, “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted and justice for the poor.”
C. Psalm 146:7 “Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoner free.”
D. Proverbs 29:26 “Many seek the ruler’s favor, But justice for man comes from the Lord.”
E. Isa. 40:27 God in a rebuke of Israel said, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God?” Nothing ever escapes the notice of God; and He does not have an ounce of passivity in Him that would cause Him to just gloss over in justice.
F. Jeremiah 9:23,24 is one of my life verses. “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the Lord.”
G. Lamentations 3:33-36 Jeremiah – in the midst of experiencing the judgment of God on Israel and Judah proclaimed – “For He does not afflict willingly Or grieve the sons of men. To crush under His feet All the prisoners of the land, To deprive a man of justice In the presence of the Most High, To defraud a man in his lawsuit – Of these things the Lord does not approve.”
H. Zephaniah 3:5 – the prophet Zephaniah said, “The Lord is righteous within her; He will do no injustice Every morning He brings His justice to light; He does not fail. But the unjust knows no shame.”
I. Luke 18:6-8 Jesus – after telling the parable about the widow and the unrighteous judge said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
J. II Thess. 1:6 – the apostle Paul reminded the church in Thessalonica, who had experienced much persecution – “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you,”
All of this to say, God executes justice in the earth & delights in our knowing Him as such
III. Jesus’s ministry & kingdom rule will be characterized by justice
A. Isa. 9:7 This was prophesied in a number of passages such as: “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness. From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” 16:5 “A throne will even be established in lovingkindness, And a judge will sit on it in faithfulness in the tent of David; Moreover, he will seek justice And be prompt in righteousness.”, 28:5,6 “In that day the Lord of hosts will become a beautiful crown And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people; A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment, A strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate.”; 42:1,3,4 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed Until he has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”; (cf. Matt. 12:18,20, where Matthew quotes this passage to show Jesus’s fulfillment of it)
B. Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold the days are coming,”declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.”; 33:15 “In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.”
C. Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
D. John 5:30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
E. I Peter 3:18 (wait for communion)
Jesus’s ministry & kingdom rule will be characterized by justice and has been and always will be characterized by justice
IV. The righteous look to God for justice and trust Him to deliver it
A. Job – Job 9:19 “If it is a matter of power, behold, He is the strong one! And if it is a matter of justice, who can summon Him?” As much as Job was swirling with the tremendous suffering and loss he had experienced and the turning of his friends on him, he knew that wherever blame belonged – – it wasn’t in God’s direction.
B. Jeremiah – Jeremiah 10:24 Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. His heart was broken a thousand times as he saw the hard hearted rebellion and idolatry of God’s people and the ensuing judgment that came as a result. But he stayed tender in his own walk with God and prayed, “Correct me, O Lord, but with justice; Not with Your anger, or You will bring me to nothing.” & 12:1 “Righteous are You, O Lord, that I would plead my case with You; Indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You: Why has the way of the wicked prospered? What are all those who deal in treachery at ease?”
C. Israel did not look to God for justice. Instead they often fell into blame and resentment – Isa. 40:27 “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert O Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God?”; Mal. 2:17 “You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied Him? In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”
D. Jesus experienced more injustice than any of us ever will. And being fully human as well as fully God – He had his moments where the evil one was throwing one fiery dart of confusion and blame after another at Him. But He knew where to sort it all out and He always did sort it out with His good and just heavenly Father – Isa. 49:4 “But I said, “I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord, And My reward with My God.”; I Peter 2:23 “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;”
CONCLUSION – COMMUNION – I Peter 3:18 “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;