Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Divine Justice And Grace

What kind of justice does our God dispense in the world? Is He the Cosmic Hanging Judge of the Universe who sits on His divine courtroom bench, gavel in hand, ready to slam it down and scream guilty? Is He nervous with anticipation of passing sentence and executing judgment against the injustice of this world? Not at all.Ironically, the God-as-Judge viewpoint does not present a biblical picture of what divine justice is about at all, but is a legalistic perspective that comes from human culture. Biblically, to “bring justice” does not mean to bring punishment, but to bring healing and reconciliation. Justice means to make things right. Throughout the Prophets justice is associated with caring for others, as something that is not in conflict with mercy, but rather an expression of it. Divine justice is God’s saving action at work for all that are oppressed, as the following verses demonstrate:

Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow (Isaiah 1:17). Note what happens when one does right by seeking justice. The oppressed are encouraged and the helpless are helped.

This is what the LORD says: “`Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed (Jeremiah 21:12). Justice is done when the oppressed is rescued.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: `Administer true justice: show mercy and compassion to one another (Zechariah 7:9). How does one administer true justice? By showing mercy and compassion to everybody involved.

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice( Isaiah 30:18). What is the reason our Lord wants to be gracious to us? Because He is just.

If we want to understand the concept of justice as the writers of the Old Testament did, then we must see it as a “setting things right again.” There is no conflict between God’s justice and His mercy. They both flow from His love.

The justice that Jesus ushers in, the righteousness he brings, have to do with God pouring his love out on us, with God showing his compassion toward us. They have to do with God meeting us in our need and liberating us from sin and oppression. With “setting things right” – that is what biblical justice is about. There is no dichotomy between a “God of justice” in the Old Testament and a “God of mercy” in the New. There is no split in God’s character. God has always been a compassionate God, a God of love. Jesus reveals who God is and who God has always been. Justice is about mercy. Justice comes through mercy and always has.

Our God is just in forgiving your sins and giving you His nature because He has righted the wrong done by Adam. They key issue in the Father’s justice wasn’t somebody being paid back for sin. His justice was in the fact that He gave back what had been lost by Adam’s fall. Justice is God’s grace at work in love.

(This blog is taken from this week’s Sunday Preaching broadcast (the week of 11/14/10) and can be seen at http://www.gracewalk.org on the home page. Credit goes to author Brad Jersak for my understanding of this perspective of justice.)

Posted by at 5:42 AM