February 2nd 2008, 01:49 PM #1
Our Hunger and Thirst for Justice
Our Hunger and Thirst for Justice
By Gary Piper
Near the top of the list of the world’s most needful things is Justice. One only needs to read a newspaper, watch a television news report, or spend even a small amount of time out and about in the world to experience the need for justice.
In fact humankinds need for justice that brought God alive in our world in the person of Jesus Christ. And even more than that Jesus’ birth, life, trial, execution, death, and resurrection once and for all defined justice.
There are two primary forms justice – human justice and divine justice. The only thing in common they have is both of them end in the word justice. For the most part the world chooses to ignore divine justice yet to ignore it does not mean it does not exist nor does it mean that we who populate the earth will not be affected by it. Justice can be seen thus:
Human justice _________ us __________________________________ divine justice.
Human justice ________________________________________us____ divine justice.
One thing that justice depends upon whether it be human justice or divine justice are commandments (laws) probably a simple answer to what justice is would be to say that justice is the response to either following the commandments or breaking them. In addition to the simple answer to justice human justice is also defined in terms such as: revenge, survival of the fittest, they owe me, God doesn’t love them anyway. I am sure you can add to my list.
It is beyond the scope of this article to examine all aspects of human justice because would be an impossible task to list all the commandments (laws) we humans have created over the years. Therefore we’ll concern ourselves primarily with divine commandments and the justice that accompanies breaking and keeping them. However it will be helpful if we think about what the Preamble of our United States Constitution has to say about the desire of our Founding Fathers that human justice come as close to divine justice as humanly possible. Please note the mention of justice and tranquility (peace).
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
When we put the words of the Constitution’s Preamble and the words “In God We Trust” on our currency together we can see that our Founding Fathers knew that human justice could only take us so far in creating a “union” where divine justice would be the ultimate goal. I can’t help but conclude that what they were trying to do was to set in motion those “principles” that would eventually bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.
As important as the laws of the United States, the international laws worked out with the various governments in the world, and the Old Testament Laws Jesus gave us a higher law – the Law of God.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28 – 12:34)
You can read nearly the same account in the 22nd chapter of Matthew with one important exception. The Mark account adds an important conversation with the scribe who asked the question. For me that acknowledged the scribes inner drive not only for divine justice but to live a life based upon divine justice as well. I love Jesus’ response, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” You’ll notice that Jesus used the phrase “not far from” what Jesus meant by that was knowledge of the Greatest Commandments was not enough.
A whole many years before Jesus’ birth the Prophet Micah prophetically laid upon humankind the NECESSITY of taking the Greatest Commandments out of our intellects and allowing them to flood every minute of our lives with not only receiving divine justice but reacting with divine justice as well. “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6 – 6:8)
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The order in which Jesus reveals the two Greatest Commandments is very important because if we cannot follow the first Commandment even though we go through the motions we will be unable to follow the second one. We’ll know we are following the first Great Commandment when God becomes the center of our lives – another way of looking at it is the agenda of our lives is no longer focused on what we want but what God wants of us.
In his Parable of the Unforgiving Servant Jesus illustrates the difference between the “me agenda” and the “God Agenda” and the repercussions for experiencing God and still adhere to the “me agenda.”
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:23 – 8:35)
Most of us if not all of us have been the unforgiving servant at one time or another especially when we have been hurt by someone or some organization. I remember many years ago I was teaching a Sunday School Class when suddenly I was taken out of the position and it was given to someone else in an effort to re-activate them in church. It took me a number of months to get to the point where I could forgive both persons. And just as Jesus pointed out in the parable it was me that was paying the price.
I’d like to shift gears slightly and spend some time on the individual the unforgiving servant did not forgive. While the unforgiving servant finds himself experiencing divine justice the “victim” at the same time experiencing human justice hungers and thirsts for divine justice. I have been the second man as well and like you find myself hungering for divine justice.
There are times when we see justice as a one time act by those who are in authority over us. For example we’ll say justice has been served when a lawbreaker has been put on trial, found guilty, and is sentenced for breaking the law or not found guilty and set free. Divine justice which is always accompanied with compassion and grace on the other hand can be seen as an ongoing process.
I love the way the Prophet Ezekiel prophetically reveals divine justice in action. “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.” (Ezekiel 36:24 – 36:30) I counted eleven times the phrase “I will” (how many did you count?) those two words are (for me at least) powerful beyond our ability to comprehend them. When God says, “I will,” it doesn’t get any better than that!
For those of us who find ourselves at the mercy of an unforgiving servant such as the individual in Jesus’ parable here are a few important points we can gather from the foregoing (unless of course you happen to be an unforgiving servant yourself):
- God will draw us to himself.
- Through the ministry of Jesus Christ God will accept our repentant spirit and clean us of our sins.
- God will give us a new heart, one filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
- With the Holy Spirit in our hearts our greatest desire will be to adhere to the two Greatest Commandments.
- God will not remove us from the negative influences of the world but will deliver us from their power.
- God will see that we prosper according to his will not ours.
The edict of divine justice is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The edict of human justice is “do unto others before they do unto you.”
The book of Revelations gives us insight into the fate of those who chose to base their lives on human justice. “And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelations 20:9 – 20:10)
The book of Revelations also gives us insight into the fate of those who not only accept divine justice but live their lives by its principles. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”(Revelations 21:1 – 21:4) It’s interesting to note that those who choose divine justice have, are, and will experience some of those things that ultimately await them.
Psalms 119 is jam packed with the “mechanics” of not only following God’s Laws but the “now benefits” and “future benefits” as well. It closes with this prayer which is not only an invocation but a benediction as well. Please allow its words to move from your eyes to your mind to your spirit They may not add years to your life but they will add divine justice and divine peace to it. They will also give you an eternal audience with God!
“Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word! Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word. My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right. Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.” (Psalms 119:169 – 119:176)
"All scriptural quotations are taken from: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."
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