Faithlife Sermons

Justice

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Psalm 82:1–8 ESV
1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah 3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
We live in a troubled world. Wars and rumors of war are a part of the daily news.
John Adams said, “I must study politics and war so that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.”
George Washington said, “Being prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”
That is tough talk!
Internally we fight over politics. People are obsessed with the quality of leadership at the national and state level. The decisions made in both places have a huge effect on our livelihood as well as our future. The United States is facing a cultural and political civil war.
Psalm 82 is a fascinating Psalm. The title says, “A Psalm of Asaph.” Asaph was a cymbal player . Whereas others were good on other instruments, he played rhythm. He also was a good singer and became the head of the music department under King David. He either wrote these Psalms or compiled them for use in worship.
What is fascinating about this Psalm is that we learn that

God is interested in politics.

Psalm 82:1 ESV
1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
God is sitting in the midst of “gods.” The word “Elohim” can also signify a leader or a strong one. We know this refers to angels or leaders because Deuteronomy tells us that God is one.
The identity of these gods is important. Some believe that these are Jewish leaders. That this Psalm is not directed specifically to leaders in Israel is indicated by the fact that in verse 8,
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
There is a bigger picture. In some way this counsel and meeting in heaven involves gods that are connected to nations or countries.
The Bible teaches us that behind the political and governmental entities are spiritual beings who are engaged in serious battle.
Daniel spells this out best.
Daniel 10:12–14 ESV
12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”
Daniel 10:20–21 ESV
20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.
Not much is given concerning their influence, but there is enough to know that we not only have conflict on the political level, there is a spiritual battle going on as well on the international level.
If God is interested in politics and government, we must understand that

God is not pleased with every political decisions.

God holds these spiritual beings, these “gods”, these angelic beings to task.
Psalm 82:2 ESV
2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
From a Christian perspective, one of the major roles of government is to promote justice. Justice, from a Hebrew perspective, is to do what is right.
Who determines what is right? God does. He is sitting with this group of angels and he is pointing out to them that in their countries and with their approval, leaders are not doing what is right. They are not treating people with justice.
Najib Razak, a former prime minister, was recently arrested in Malaysia for corruption. Either he is guilty or the new government is cracking down on the past administration. Whichever way it really is, God would sit in this counsel and say, I am the God who created you. I don’t stand for corruption or retaliation.
Poland changed the retirement age for their Supreme Court judges from 70 to 65. The government said it was to get rid of corruption, the judges view this as a power grab. If the judges have a political party over them that judges them, then they cannot remain independent. I don’t know which way this works. But whichever way is the wrong way does not have God’s support.
Britain is trying to make LGBT conversion therapy illegal. I don’t know if the counselors who they are targeting are giving bad counsel, but I do know that Paul tells us,
Acts 17:30–31 ESV
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
God is not in the coercion business. He is in the conversion business. God does not approve those who deviate from doing what is right.
Specifically, these gods were showing favoritism.
Psalm 82:2 ESV
2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Why would anyone show partiality toward the wicked?
Wicked themselves
Money or Power
Fear of offence
First, they would show partiality toward the wicked if they were wicked themselves.
Second, they would show partiality toward the wicked if they would give them money or power.
Third, they would show partiality toward the wicked if they had a real fear of offending the wicked.
Psalm 82:3 ESV
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
The call of God in this passage is not a call for equality, but a call for fairness in judgment. Make sure the weak are treated the same as the strong, the fatherless the same as those with strong family ties, the afflicted the same as those who are not in trouble and the needy the same as those who have no needs.
Lady Justice is a symbol in many countries. Lady Justice is a woman, implying that a woman is more apt to give justice. In many places she wears a blindfold. The blindfold is on her face to indicate that she cannot see who is before her and therefore makes decisions on the merits, not on the people.
This passage speaks of delivering the afflicted, destitute, weak and needy from the hand of the wicked. At least in this passage it does not speak about feeding the poor or helping the weak gain strength. It specifically targets injustice, the kind of injustice that favors the wicked over the weaker members of our society.
Augustine said, “What are kingdoms without justice? They’re just gangs of bandits.”
We might understand why human leaders would treat their subject this way. Why would these “gods” influence humans in such bad ways?
Psalm 82:5–7 ESV
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”
The problem is that these gods have neither knowledge nor understanding. Angelic beings don’t know everything. These beings are demons, fallen angels. Instead of promoting righteousness, they promote evil. They are as capable of falling as any other created being would be.
These gods who sat in counsel seem unaware of how much God hated injustice.
Psalm 82:8 ESV
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!
Someday God will inherit all the nations. One day at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father.
It’s easy for us to point the finger at our political systems and people. In my lifetime I have had impassioned people tell me how bad Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump have been. We have seen this same finger pointing at the state and local level as well.
How just do you act? Are you treating others right? Are you abusing others physically, sexually or emotionally? Are you showing favoritism towards a child, a family member or a friend? Is someone else hurt because of your actions?
In this Psalm, what is foundational is justice. Justice is the main purpose of government. Mercy and grace is the main purpose of the church.
Justice is the foundation for the cross. Jesus is both just and the justifier of those who believe.
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

God wants us to be just.

Proverbs 1:2–7 ESV
2 To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, 3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; 4 to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— 5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, 6 to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
God wants us to live above the political process by following the Spirit of God in our lives.
We are to stand with victims. We are to care about how others are treated.
Micah 6:8 ESV
8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Injustice can take place in a home.
Injustice can take place in a business.
Injustice can take place in a community organization.
Injustice can take place in a church.
The weak and needy are mistreated. God wants us to stand with them.
If you do, you may have to come to grips with your own wickedness. You may not have treated others right because you know you were not right inside.
Change is hard, but God has made a way. Repent andyou’re your faith in Jesus. Trust him. Follow Him. He will forgive your sins and help you walk a new path.
Second, standing with the weak may cost you money or power.
Not everyone may like you standing up for injustice. Many pastors tremble at taking steps that are needed to be taken because they are afraid of losing their largest donors in the church. Many organizations have someone that is not standing for what is right, yet are the most faithful volunteer.
Third, standing with the weak may mean that you face real fear over the consequence. You may lose the organization if you stand up to that person. You may be voted out of office. You may be unpopular. You may lose money if your biggest supporters of your group decide not to pay. You may face a lot of pressure. There may be people who backbite and cut you down to your face and behind your back.
This sense of justice does not start when someone is voted into office. Justice starts in the home.
God calls us to justice, to kindness and to a humble walk.
Is God talking to you this morning? Are you aware or a situation where the weak are run over by the strong? God wants you to stand for justice.
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