The Bible and Justice

Bible Justice
The media today has presented to the watching eyes of the public multitudes of images involving acts of social injustice taking place around the world. These images of starvation, mutilation, and genocide are shocking to many of the Western viewers. These disturbing images have generated an outcry in many people that declare “That is not right.” “People should not be treated that way.” Often in the outcry is the question about how these things could have been allowed to happen. More pointedly, “Who is to blame for them?” Some blame everything on the consumerism of the Western world that has tempted the rest of the world into a wanton lifestyle. Some believe it is the governments of the world that need to stop fighting and step up and fix these situations. Others believe it is the responsibility of the church to fix these injustices. However the question is posed, it is the belief of many that something must be done.

In an attempt to find blame for the existence of these social atrocities, some have accused God and the church for the problems. God has been accused of being indifferent about the plight that many humans face. Others use that the situation to prove that a God does not exist. If He is as good as religious people say He is, and if He has allowed this human situation to get so out of hand, then He is too weak to be of any value, and unworthy of being served. He is so unable to manage the human situation that he does not deserved to be considered a god.

How is a Believer to respond to these accusations about the Lord? The Scriptures has much to say about the issue. Here are some simple biblical statements about God and justice.

  1. It is important to know that God is just (Deut 32:4; Neh 9:33; Jer 30:11).
  2. Human wickedness is the outworking of fallen people’s nature (Gal 5:19-21; Gen 6:1-6; Matt 15:19). God did not make them to live this way. It is the consequence of people rejecting the authority of God’s ways over their lives. Perverted justice is one of the many characteristics of fallen human nature ( Deut 16:20; Amos 5:11, 6:12; Mic 3:9; Hab 1;4).
  3. Every person will be judged according to their evil deeds (Pro 14:32; Eze 36:19; Rom 2:6; Rev 20:12-13). People’s lack of justice will be held against them.
  4. God hears the outcry of those who are oppressed (Ps 71:12).
  5. The Lord will repay the oppressors according to their evil deeds (Pro 19:17; Hos 12:2; Rom 12:19; 2Tim 4:14).
  6. God requires justice in areas of human life (Amos 5:15, 24; Mic 6:8).
  7. The Lord allows no favoritism in social matters (James 2:2-9).
  8. Jesus endorses justice in life (Matt 12:18, 20).
  9. The work of the Holy Spirit supports justice (Mic 3:8).
  10. The Apostle Paul requires justice between members of the church community (Gal 4:1).

Following are some individual aspects of God’s relation to the justice issues.

A.  In the Old Testament, God declared standards and laws describing how people in society were to behave. It is important to note that the Lord says in several places that the laws were not just for the Jewish people. He specifically says that there was one law or standard to be used for native born Jews as well as the strangers and aliens that lived among them. This demonstrates that God desired the same standards of justice for all ethnic groups, not just the nation of Israel. Read Ex 12:49; Lev 24:27; Num 9:14. 15:15-16, 29.

B.  There are references in some laws where specific references are made stating that the jurisdiction of some rules are also for foreigners living among the Jewish people.

  • Celebration of Jewish yearly religious feasts (Lev 16:29; Num 9:14)
  • Eating blood (Lev 17:12)
  • Acts of immorality (Lev 18:26)
  • Harvesting laws (Lev 23:22; Deut 24:19-21)
  • Blaspheming God’s name (Lev 24:16)
  • Offering sacrifices (Num 15:15-30)
  • Personal purification (Num 19:10)
  • Access to the Cities of Refuge (Num 35:15)
  • The judicial process (Deut 1:16; 24:17)
  • Care given to foreigners living among Israel (Deut 14:16; 10:18-19)

C.  The Jewish people were required to not detest the foreigners that lived among them (Deut 23:7-8).

D.  There are specific biblical references dealing with the equitable and fair treatment of women:

  • Redemptively they are equal with men (Gal 3:29).
  • Men are to treat them as sisters in the Body of Christ (1Tim 5:1).
  • Special care was to be given to genuine widows (1Tim 5:3-16).
  • Older women were to be respected (Tit 2:3).
  • They would be equally anointed by the Spirit for ministry (Joel 2:28).

E.  Slavery and human trafficking was something God takes very seriously (Am 1:6, 9; 2:6; 8:6; Joel 3:3).

F.  The rich class of people were not to use their wealth and power as a means to oppress the needy (Deut 24:14; Amos 4:1).

G.  The magistrates in the courts were to provide just decisions for people from all nations (Amos 5:7; Mic 3:9; Luke 11:42).

H.  Of all aspect of daily life, caring for the poor is of great importance to the Lord. There are several things that He tells people to do for the poor and needy.

  1. Lend finances to them to help them (Ex 22:25). Only no interest is to be charged them (Deut 15:2-11; Matt 5:42, 19:21).
  2. Leaves gleanings in the fields for the poor to eat (Ex 23:21; Lev 19:9).
  3. Help to redeem them from their financial troubles (Lev 25:28).
  4. In the Year of Jubilee, all their lost property was to be returned (Lev 25:35).
  5. Part of the yearly tithes collected from the people was to be used to help the poor (Deut 14:28-29).
  6. They were never to be oppressed (Zech 7:10).
  7. All business with the poor was to be honest (James 5:4).
  8. Isaiah 58:7 says that helping out the poor is what real fasting and consecration to the Lord should involve.

When people reach out to help the poor, there is a special divine blessing that accompanies these acts.

  1. God blesses people that watch out for the poor (Ps 37:26; 41:1; 112:2, 9; Isa 58:10; Act 20:35).
  2. Jesus notices acts of kindness shown to the poor (Matt 25:35).
  3. Paul declares a blessing to those who help the poor (Rom 12:13, 20; Gal 2L10; Eph 4:28).
  4. James speaks of the blessing (Jam 1:27).
  5. John refers to it (1John 3:17).

God and the poor:

  • God declares that the needy people in this life will not be forgotten. He sees their plight and will care for them in the age to come (Ps 9:18; 12:5).
  • The Lord personally claims the poor and identifies with them (Pro 22:2).
  • God hears their cries (Ps 34:6; 69:33).
  • He will ensure that they receive justice (Pro 22:22).

All these things show that the Lord is very mindful and involved in matters of justice. It is part of His very nature, and He has intended mankind to live according to His nature. When human actions run contrary to God’s nature, God notices and will hold the violators responsible for what they do. If Christians declare to be servants of God, then it is their responsibility to uphold those values that are important to Him. This is why Christians cannot be indifferent to matters of social injustice. We must uphold the character of our Lord and properly represent Him in our world.