Friday, July 22, 2016

Will justice reign?

Earth groans and waits
For her King to come
With trembling hands
Of broken innocence
She bows and breaks
'Neath her heavy load
For time has held her ransom
Will justice reign
Will truth prevail

-Kathryn Scott, words from Will Justice Reign

The idea for this question emanates from the haunting lyrics of Kathryn Scott’s well-done song. I think the idea for the question to be so very basic that I cannot imagine why I had not thought of it before. We live in a new generation, and foster the myth that we are “modern”, something that every other generation also thought as they lived out their times. And yet, if we are modern, where is the progress? We see great progress in the advance of knowledge, but little progress in man himself. If we are truly progressing, should not the perfect man be out there, somewhere within our reach? I speak not of the truly perfect man who has already come, and been largely denied by the world; I speak rather of that nebulous idea that somehow we might achieve that state (that we freely spurned when it was given to us) by higher and better achievement. I think that is the center focus of “modern” man even when he lived centuries ago. We were always on the cutting edge of making the world better. The world is bent on achieving that which is freely given, and hell-bent on doing it “their way”.

If their way is working, where is the better world? Have greed, murder, and wars diminished? We have a set of people who believe in one world, who believe in progressivism, but there is scant evidence of any sense in which we are progressing. We have only the last century to look at, and doing the math, find more people killed in the last century than in the wars of the last ten centuries. If this is how we are to measure progress, surely something is wrong with our measuring stick.

Nuclear bombs now reside in the presence of the rogue states, which only the most optimistic continue to rule out a conflagration of this new century that could dwarf those of the last century. Yet the optimistic seem to rule, and everywhere we see denial of the possibility of nuclear holocaust—something all we American children were taught to expect in the 1960’s. The likelihood of nuclear war continues to grow a bit with each passing decade, if ignored by the optimistic, and it is almost futile to point out that mankind has never before turned away from using the destructive weapons it has invented. Nuclear weapons now have seven decades of non-use, and it would be crazy to presume that the world will long continue to observe this abstinence.

All of this is just to set up the environment for the question: will justice reign? If it is to come from mankind, the answer must be an unequivocal no—man is a failure, and more strenuous attempts at self-reform will, in the end, avail nothing. However, there is great reason not to leave the answer there, but instead, to look to the Bible and see what the Bible says about justice. Having just finished reading the Psalms again, I was struck by how often the Psalmist assumes righteousness. I tend to forget that revelation is progressive, and I do forget that things obvious to us now, were not at all obvious to the earlier old testament people.
It is a marvel to me that Job says, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Job, the earliest writer in the Old Testament, probably around the time of Abraham, knew of something that strongly implies the resurrection—all thousands of years before the cross. How did Job know that? Did God give him a special revelation? Were their prophets of his day that spoke from the Lord? Was this commonly done for men of faith during that time? All of those questions we cannot begin to answer, but we should marvel over the fact that much of the future gospel was imparted to Job way ahead of time.

But in Job’s time, they assumed that prosperity was a sign of favor from God. Job’s friends, famously wrong, all argue that Job’s plight is due to his sin, and thus the withdrawal of God’s approval. The Psalmist often made the same mistake, though not always. David tells us that “a broken and contrite heart, Oh Lord, you will not despise,” but for every instance where he tells us of sin there are two instances of where he presents himself as righteous and full of integrity. In Psalm 7:8, David tells us, “Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.” He maintains his righteousness to God many times, and the Psalms are replete with the “assumed righteousness” theme. We know that David is mistaken about his righteousness, that he had only partial revelation, and still often made the mistake of assuming God was on the side of the righteous. In other places, David is enlightened beyond his time, and in places like Psalms 32:1, he says, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” How did he know that he needed his sin forgiven? By faith, and revelation, he was able to apprehend that which was to come.

Even in the time of Jesus, the disciples struggled with this theme of riches being a sign of approval from God. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than it is for a rich man to be saved,” proclaimed Jesus, shocking the disciples. Their amazement at his statement is obvious in their next question, “Then, Lord, who can be saved?” They had assumed that the richer you were, the more likely you were to have God’s approval.

And I give all of these examples (and many more might be found), making the point extensively, so that I can point to today’s society. Do we not do the same thing? Do we not look to the wealthy and the rich for signs of God’s approval? Do we not measure a society by their rich class, assuming that their morals are the proper morals? In the midst of all of that balderdash, Kathryn Scott, in her song quoted at the beginning, says that earth groans and waits for her King to come. And it is precisely at this point that justice will indeed come and forever reign.

I hate the oppression and tyranny and indignity of life I see around me, and I know that I see the best of it, because I do not travel to the dark corners of the world, and instead live in the United States. But even here, I see murders taking place, and no one held accountable. I see politicians lining their pockets with gold that was supposed to go to help the poor. I see people venerated who are naught but evil leaders, and I see so many daily casualties of the careening morals of our society. How much shall be made right? The correct answer is every bit.

First there is the judgment for the Christian, and before you insist that the Christian is not to be judged, you need to remember that he has already been judged in Christ. God poured out his wrath and judgment for the sins of the world, that whosoever believes might escape the judgment themselves, because God has already judged his Son for our sins. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven, no mercy that cannot be extended to those who will believe God. Do not let the horror of your own sin make you think that God’s provision is not adequate—it is fully able to provide mercy to all who call upon him and believe. Do not insult God by telling him that your sins are too big for his provision—all he asks is your acceptance and belief. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, says Titus, but according to his mercy he has saved us.

But apart from hiding behind Christ, wherein all Christians must find their rescuing, there remains no sacrifice for sin. What does that mean? No one gets away with anything. Period. Every murderer, even those who escape justice in this world, shall face justice in that world. Every plot, every evil deed, and every evil device shall be uncovered and exposed in that day.

Even the mundane evil—the rejection of the provision of God—shall be exposed on that day, and apart from Christ no one will escape. The thoughts of man are open to God, and on that day, they will all be exposed. As long as we assume that man is not an eternal creature, it makes sense to plot against other men, and devise evil subterfuges. But the second that men are found not to be just animals gone crazy through evolution, but instead are found to be eternal creatures made in the image of God, the game is up. In that day, men will be righteously and completely judged for their sins, whatever they may be. Will justice reign? Most assuredly!

A final note. It is easy to blame the judge, and thus it might be easy for men to imagine that it somehow is all God’s fault. But the great escape from judgment is made, and having given his all to make it, God could do no more than he did. The fault lies in the doers of the deeds. Having chosen to meet God on their own terms, those are the very terms that they will be judged by. In that sense, God will not be the cause of their destruction, merely the instrument. If a man freely chooses hell and damnation, in the end God allows them their choice. How much better that we should hide behind the one he sent, and all the while, being most careful in our treatment of others, knowing that the Judge does indeed see all things.

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