Ever wonder how we got the notion of justice–that abuses should be corrected and the oppressed taken care of? Wonder know more.
In short, God’s justice means He will correct the abuses of the oppressors and meet the needs of the oppressed.
Let’s see how we got to this point.
What Is Justice?
The idea of justice is twofold.
1. Justice is giving to society and the needy the basic rights and benefits they require to survive.
2. Justice is punishing those who exploit, oppress and withhold basic rights and benefits from society and the needy.
Who are the needy?
God’s Justice Restores People to Community
Events like the Jubilee Year are symbolic notions of justice–it demonstrates God’s desire for people to be in community.
In the Jubilee Year, which occurred every 50 years on the Hebrew calendar, slaves were to be released from their masters…debts were to be canceled…and property taken due to foreclosures was supposed to be returned.
The point: everyone and everything that’d been separated could now return to their families.
God’s Justice Restores the Oppressed and Punishes the Oppressor
The prohibition against interest on loaned money was another notion of God’s justice. He didn’t want people to get buried by debt growing out of control through interest.
In addition, those devastated by natural disaster, the economy, old age or disease were also looked upon by God with compassion. Restoring them was part of his justice.
And finally, the part of justice that we commonly understand is the punishment handed out to exploiters. The book of Job decries the injustice of depriving people of economic and material needs–or taking advantage of them.
God’s Justice Is Seen in the Due Process of Law
In America law, due process is a concept of fundamental fairness.
Due process ensures someone isn’t deprived of life, liberty or property without fair opportunity to defend themselves. It also demands equal protection to all persons–no matter race, religion or sex.
The basic concept of due process–and it’s connection to righteous judgment–can be seen in Deuteronomy 16:18-20 where perversion of justice, partiality or bribes are prohibited.
Any of these things subverts the cause of justice.
God’s Justice Makes Him the Defender of the Oppressed
As the independent and sovereign creator of the universe, God is just. Psalm 99:4 says:
The strength of the King loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
God becomes the defender of the oppressed, savior of the humble and the hero of orphans and widows. Thus, justice is universal and becomes the source of all human justice.
The Human Agent of Justice
The most prominent human agent of justice is the ruler. Whether king or president, he receives God’s justice…and is a channel for it.
Furthermore, God demands from the ruler–Christian or pagan–that he care for the needy groups of society.
In fact, this is true for anyone who bears the name of God–we must show justice through such acts like obedience to the commandments.
So, tell me, are you being just? Are you reflecting the nature of your God? In a nutshell, are you obeying God’s commandments?
Hard questions, for sure. But worthy of examination. Especially since non-Christians tend to reject Christianity because of hypocrisy.
Let me know what you think.
**Part of The Nature of God series.**