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Posts Tagged ‘justice’

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The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.

“What?”

“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.

AMEN.

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Moses fled from Egypt out of fear.  He had killed an Egyptian man on behalf of the Hebrews.  When he realized someone had seen the crime, he ran away into the desert to a place called Midian.

In Midian, the Bible says Moses sat down by a well.  Some women came to draw water and were attacked by shepherds.  For the third time, we see Moses act on behalf of the weak to serve justice.  His actions prove a pattern of character.  Moses was a defender of the weak – like unto God.

Despite his sin, the Lord blessed Moses for his courage and gave him a home and family in Midian.  He became  a shepherd.  God provided for Moses and prepared him for his future work of delivering Israel.

Moses was not on a mission to save all God’s people when he struck down the Egyptian.  He was looking to save one.  He wasn’t looking to be the judge of all Israel when he sought to reconcile two Hebrew men.  He was trying to make peace between two Israelites.   Moses did not expect to gain a family by standing up for a few women in distress.  In all of these instances, Moses was just being who he was.  He was doing what God-fearing men do – protecting, defending, and seeking justice for the weak and oppressed.  He sounds a lot like his mom.  God used his courage and hunger for justice and, over the next forty years, grew him into a great deliverer.

What we don’t see is Moses running around vying for a position.  He had one that he, apparently, did not overly value, in Egypt.  We don’t see him seeking favor with men or worrying what would happen if he stood up against evil.  He acted impulsively according to his instincts.  We never see him asking God to make him a leader for Israel.  In fact, when called to leadership he attempts to decline by making excuses.  All Moses’ life is weaved together by nothing less than the providence of God.  From his birth to his need to defend to his desert escape to his new-found foreign family, all the way to his calling, his courage, and his great task of delivering Israel out of Egypt, God sovereignly gave Moses all things according to his own will.

Here is a lesson for us – for we who chase the doing rather than living in the being of our humanity.  We needn’t busy ourselves seeking positions or popularity among God’s people – or any people for that matter.  The way to pleasing God is not found in frantically finding a way to become a front-runner for him.  Instead, we ought concentrate on simply being who we are in him.  We ought to focus on being like him – hungry for justice, quick to defend the weak and oppressed, recklessly abandoning all that is opposed, and trusting fully in his providence.

That is who Moses was.  It wasn’t that Moses just so happened to be in the right place at the right time.  It was that Moses was just the right man for the life God had called him to live out.  The very same thing is true for each of us.  Act Be accordingly.

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After Elihu introduces himself and makes known his concern and love for Job, he begins a defense which represents God and his justice.

“Hear my words, you wise men,
    and give ear to me, you who know;…

For Job has said, ‘I am in the right,
    and God has taken away my right;
6 in spite of my right I am counted a liar;
    my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’ ~Job 34:2, 5-6

Elihu again proves respectful.

 Firstly, before he even begins, he counts his listeners – those older men with whom he clearly disagrees on this matter – wise men.  He does not discount their understanding or insult their intelligence.  And it’s not patronizing.  This young guy knows that his elders may indeed be in the wrong here, but he recognizes that they deserve honor and respect for all the experience, know-how, and qualifications they bring to the table.

Secondly, he again quotes Job.  He does not put words in Job’s mouth or assume any unseen motives.  Elihu proves wise by focusing only on the facts as stated by Job himself.

He goes on to make his case, not in an effort to make Job look bad or satisfy himself with how right he is, but to restore Job’s spiritual thinking and reconcile him to the God they both loved.

His method?  Magnify God’s justice.  Assure men of God’s goodness.  Remind Job of the sure judgement of all.  Confront specific sins.  Urge repentance.

Job had spoken foolishly while bearing an exceptionally heavy load of grief.  Elihu knows the danger and temptation Job faces if he continues in self-pity.  He knows what will become of Job if he becomes self-righteous.  

Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty  ~Job 34:17

Is God wrong, Job?  Or are you?

 Elihu shows Job what was wrong with what he’d said.  It’s not that God isn’t just, it’s that humans cannot understand his justice.

Men of understanding will say to me,
    and the wise man who hears me will say:
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge;
    his words are without insight.’
36 Would that Job were tried to the end,
    because he answers like wicked men.
37 For he adds rebellion to his sin;
    he claps his hands among us
    and multiplies his words against God.” ~Job 34:34-37

Unbelieving people are going to think you are more foolish than they!  By disrespecting God you are disrespecting yourself!  You sound like someone you are not, Job.  Submit to the wisdom of God’s providence and trust him in your time of suffering.  

Elihu shows Job how damaging to his good reputation and witness his wrong words and thoughts were.  

Easy for Elihu to say, right?  I know.  So how did he keep from being taken for a know-it-all-I-have-all-the-answers jerk to a guy who didn’t need to hear it from some young punk who couldn’t begin to understand the difficulty of his listener’s circumstances?

He entered humbly.  He made sure Job knew beyond the shadow of a doubt beforehand that he was a friend; an advocate who was certainly on his side.  He exhibited patience and waited for the proper time and opportunity to speak.  He avoided hearsay and presumption and dealt only with facts directly stated by Job.  He was respectful even though he was righteously angry and in disagreement with Job.  He focuses on the truth of God rather than his own opinions or preferences.  He wasn’t wishy-washy or cowardly with his exhortations.  

If anyone was wise, it was Elihu.  I have much to learn from him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQQMJ2u6fGE

 

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“Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty,
    and why do those who know him never see his days?…

From out of the city the dying groan,
    and the soul of the wounded cries for help;
    yet God charges no one with wrong. ~Job 24:1, 12

Job wants to know why.  Why doesn’t God see?  If God sees, why does he not act?  Where is justice for the evildoer?  Where is mercy for the victim?  Where is proper punishment?  Where is needed relief?  Where is God and why doesn’t he do something?

How many of us have asked these same questions when faced with the cruel injustices of life?

Job mentions thieves, violence towards the poor and destitute, the ungodly, murderers, and adulterers.  Job himself has surely been a victim of many such men.  Not only had he suffered greatly by the hands of these kinds of men, he was falsely charged as one of them.  Little wonder why he’s impatiently awaiting a fair hearing followed by some swift, strict justice.

As I read this chapter, (over and over) I was troubled in my heart.  It bothered me.  The conflict I kept coming back to was the difficult balance between love and justice.

Love.  Love your enemies.  It’s easy to hate ruthless Viking-type men like those who killed Job’s family, stole his possessions, and burned down his house.  It’s, unfortunately, just as easy to hate people very like unto ourselves who…destroy families, steal from the corrupt government, and whose houses we are oft tempted to covet.  Often, we hate both.  But Jesus said love both.  Jesus did love both.  

How can we reconcile earnest love with an unmet desire for justice?  How can we earnestly love when we have an unmet desire for justice?  How can we expect, or even continue to want, justice for other sinners but not ourselves?  Should we?  Is it enough to say my sins are covered by Christ and that makes me blameless but yours are not so you deserve justice?  Or maybe yours are covered, too, but, because you hurt me, you still deserve justice.  Because that’s not what Steven said when as he was being martyred.  It’s not what Jesus said when he was being crucified.

60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. ~Acts 7:60 

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. ~Luke 23:34

Here’s what Job and I must believe:  God is just.  God is love.  Somehow, someday God will work those two things out fully and finally.  He promised he would and he cannot lie.  Until then, we must love in spite of injustice, pray for those who harm us and others, forgive our debtors, and trust that God will save some from the punishment we all deserve.  

That does not mean we don’t fight for justice when it’s in our power to do so.  But it might help to recognize that, maybe, we’re asking the wrong questions.  Maybe Job was, too, though who could blame him?  Maybe we should be asking God to save those who injure us instead of asking God why he won’t punish them.  

Generally, unless we’re a NYC cop or a judge like Judy, we cannot deal justice any more than poor old Job could.  I guess that’s because justice isn’t really our department; love is.  Therefore, no matter how you’ve been wronged, leave the justice to God.  Jesus did as much for you.  Love one another by faith.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises,stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us,that apart from us they should not be made perfect. ~Hebrews 11:32-40

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaUTv1pXRyU

 

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In Job chapter 23, Job argues that his complaints are justified.  While his friends insist that he is rebellious and accuse him of self-pity, Job says his groaning is far less dramatic than the cause of it.

Then Job answered and said:

2 “Today also my complaint is bitter;
    my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. ~Job 23:1-2

Job knows God is there, he just cannot find him.  So confident is he in his innocence and acquittal of these false charges, he says he knows and understands how justly and favorably God would answer him.

At first glance, the beginning of this discourse may strike its reader as self-righteous or arrogant, however, the more one learns about Job, his faithful past, and his character, the more he realizes Job’s sincerity.  Job is not boasting in works or self-sufficiency.  Job is trusting in a God of mercy and grace where he has erred and a God of justice where he has been falsely accused.  It is not because of pride, but because his argument and truthful speech has gone unheard, disbelieved, and altogether disregarded for so very long that his diction becomes increasingly passionate.  For those who study carefully, his rising level of adamance proves not a symptom of self-righteousness, but an evidence of faith!  

Consider Job’s speech:

3 Oh, that I knew where I might find him, ——- Job knows that God is alive.

                                                                that I might come even to his seat! —– Job knows that God would accept him (a flawed human) at his table.

4 I would lay my case before him                                                               
    and fill my mouth with arguments.  ——– Job believes that God will listen.

5 I would know what he would answer me                                                                      
    and understand what he would say to me. ——–  Job knows God would fully understand.

6 Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?                                                                                                                                                           
    No; he would pay attention to me. ——– Job trusts that God would not abuse his authority as men do; that he would condescend to him.

       7 There an upright man could argue with him,                                                                              
    and I would be acquitted forever by my judge. ——- Job has faith that God would judge rightly.

Job is not haughty as some might accuse.  Job simply has full confidence in the God he cannot see or hear presently.  Where his friends seek to burden him with unfounded blame, he seeks to maintain his innocence and search tirelessly for the only one who can confirm it.  

If Job errs, he errs by his boldness to demand justice from a just God in whom he fully trusts, rather than simply asking for or waiting upon it.  Job’s guilt had to do with his insatiable, impatient hunger and thirst for righteousness, not wicked scheming or covert sin as he was charged.  Someone should have told Job’s friends how fiercely misdiagnosis will both frustrate and destroy progress.

Children often act anxiously when awaiting the best gifts of their parents.  Unfortunately, when children begin to become so impatient that they demand what they know Daddy’s bringing, they forfeit both their joy as well as his pleasure in giving it.  

How tempting it is for even the best men to grow impatient with the world’s injustice, evil, and suffering!  We long to see wrong righted, pain alleviated, and truth prevailing.  Then again, we ought to remember that Jesus did, too, and for those very reasons, he was willing to suffer greatly.  Am I?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DdgkvnsHjM

 

 

 

 

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Job answers Bildad in Job 9 and 10.

Then Job answered and said:

2 “Truly I know that it is so:
    But how can a man be in the right before God?
3 If one wished to contend with him,
    one could not answer him once in a thousand times…

Behold, he snatches away; who can turn him back?
    Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’

13 “God will not turn back his anger;
    beneath him bowed the helpers of Rahab. ~Job 9:1-3.12-13

Displaying his maturity even in great suffering, Job opens by agreeing that much of what Bildad (his accuser) said was absolutely true.  Note, one who can admit how much he agrees with those with whom he is disputing shows great wisdom, honesty, and grace.  Job agreed – God does punish the evil and bless the righteous.  Job knew it was true.  Job simply began to wonder if that was just.  Who is completely righteous?  Could he have honestly tried any harder?  Given any more effort?  And even if he had or could, how could he be perfect and guiltless?  How could anyone?

Job knew neither he nor anyone else could be justified before a holy God.  He could defend himself against his friends’ false accusations of hypocrisy and wickedness, but he knew far better than to consider himself wholly righteous.  Therefore, Job’s dilemma was not one of self-righteousness (albeit he did have more evidence of true faith than most any other man ever did) rather, Job’s dilemma was one of trust.

How then can I answer him,
    choosing my words with him?
15 Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him;
    I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.[a]
16 If I summoned him and he answered me,
    I would not believe that he was listening to my voice.
17 For he crushes me with a tempest
    and multiplies my wounds without cause;
18 he will not let me get my breath,
    but fills me with bitterness.
19 If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty!
    If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?[b]
20 Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me;
    though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse.
21 I am blameless; I regard not myself;
    I loathe my life. ~Job 9:14-21

God was big.  Job was infinitely small.  How could he even begin to argue with his Creator over justice?  Even if Job thought he was right, how could he dispute with God?

Interestingly, Job understands the objections to his own thoughts before God ever begins to cross-examine him.  The very questions God asks of him in the end, he lays out here in hopeless exasperation.  Clearly, Job wasn’t seeking to override or dismiss God’s sovereign rule, he was simply desperate to understand and to hear a comforting word from the God he loved.  If God could answer Job’s “whys,” Job thought he would be satisfied.  His doubt, fear, and hopelessness are a result of a silent God whom he can no longer seem to hear, touch, feel, or see.  Then again, isn’t that the root of every unbeliever’s real blindness?

Ironically, the Devil originally set out to cause Job to speak ill of God.  Instead, Job ends up speaking of the greatness and the immensity of an all powerful, high and mighty God.  So much for Satan’s bright ideas.  Still, Job felt slighted by his great, powerful, high, and mighty God.  He had given his whole life to service and obedience toward this God – whom he genuinely loved, by the way – it wasn’t a bribe for blessing.  Yet it seemed that God had turned his back on Job.

There is no way to defend himself or state his case because he believes that God already knows, already sees, already understands, yet will not move.  He knows God, as it were, too well.

 In his misery, Job began to feel like a victim – albeit a guilty one – nevertheless, a victim of an angry and uncaring God he did not know.  Doubtless he also felt at least somewhat entitled to a better life than this.  Hadn’t he served and loved and obeyed and worshiped and fasted and prayed?

This is Job’s lowest point.  Entitlement always follows a victim mentality.  Allowing hardship and self-pity to make us a victim is the worst mistake any believer can ever make.

Often, in great suffering even the most mature and wise will be broken down to a place of hopeless circular thinking.  God can seem distant, silent, even unjust to a man in this condition.  If we can learn one thing from Job’s discourse here, it comes from verse 17.

“For he crushes me with a tempest
    and multiplies my wounds without cause;”

This is the fundamental error Job made.  He allowed himself to believe that his affliction was without cause.  And it was, in as much as he did not provoke it by disobedience, but he failed to recognize that the (very purposeful) cause lie within God’s good will.

News flash, America: everything is not about us and our will.  Everything is about God and his will.  I am not a victim of time, chance, or circumstance.  Neither are you.  We are the sons and daughters of a good and sovereign God.  We are neither promised nor entitled to earthly blessings, but we surely will receive an eternal reward.  Our hope is not dependent upon the here and now.  Our hope is found in our Hero who will help us until we get to heaven.  His name is not health, wealth, happiness, or prosperity.  His name is Jehovah Shalom; Prince of Peace; Jesus Christ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSIVjjY8Ou8

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ImageOut of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of movement.  20 degrees and two hours in on a 13 mile run, I was almost certain I had been the only creature stirring at that hour.

But, no, here was proof that I was wrong.  I watched as a horse ran uphill through the snow to meet what appeared to be the abominable snow person.

I couldn’t help but notice how much trouble the woman was going to for this particular animal.  On the snow covered hill sat two coolers and the master was approaching with a third.  I’m guessing it must have been food by the way the horse reacted to her presence.

Laboring not to slow to a walk, I mused.  “Why on earth would anyone be out here feeding an animal right now?” I thought. (more…)

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