God and Justice • Sermon • Submitted
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Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them. You crushed Rahab like a carcass; you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. The north and the south, you have created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name. You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted. For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.
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21-We live in an unjust world.
21-We live in an unjust world.
Psalm 89 - his Psalm Closes out the third book of Psalms. Psalms carries a major theme through its book from Chapter 2 about the hope and promise of a future Davidic Messiah. This Psalm taps into that hope in the midst of the ruin of the Exile into Bablyon. It remembers the Davidic Covenant, that it is forever. It remembers who God is the loving, Just, Righteous, Truthful/Faithful God over all creation. It remembers how blessed the King from Davids line is and the people are for having this wonderful God as God, but then it wonders how long God will hide his face in exile because of the unfaithfulness of the kings and the people. It ends in a request to restore the loyal love sworn to David.
Take any number of issues in our world today - Racism, Abortion, Middle East, Sexual Abuse, Trafficing, and slavery, Responses to COVID (whether to wear a mask or not), totalitarian regimes, Cop killings (both ways)
Why is there soooo much injustice in the World? Sin....How long does it have to last? - This is the Psalmists Question. When will the Davidic Kingdom be restored?
401k, or any business if you trace the money we are supporting injustice somehow, someway, even if that means you or we are intentionally not being unjust. - We are contribute to the good and the bad in our world knowing it or not knowing it.
In the middle of this mess the Psalmist remembers...
22-God is Just.
22-God is Just.
In the middle of experiencing injustice the very wise sage Ethan the Ezrahite says that Justice and Righteousness are the foundation of God’s throne. In other words it is the Character of God’s Rule over all creation.
1. Bottom line, the psalmist tells us that God’s character is not to be doubted. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” (v. 14). “He never did, nor ever will do, anything that is either unjust or unwise…None of all his dictates or decrees ever varied from the rules of equity and wisdom, nor could ever any charge God with unrighteousness or folly…He always does that which is kind to his people (Matthew Henry, “Commentary on Psalm 89”, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Psa/Psa_089.cfm?a=567014)
Who recognizes his justice? - The Heavenly Council, the gods, his children.
How do we recognize his justice? - Creation, rule over creation, His salvation from Egypt.
Righteousnsess (TWOT) - This root basically connotes conformity to an ethical or moral standard. in the OT that standard is the nature and will of God. Jeremiah declares that justice and righteousness together means to deliver the weak, to do no violence to them, nor to shed innocent blood. This righteousness will preserve the city (Jer 22:14).
Justice - The sense here is the quality of being free from favoritism, self-interest, bias, or deception; especially conforming to established standards or rules.
23-https://thebibleproject.com/videos/justice/ - Part 1
24-1. The reality that God is just can be frightening. At times, the recurrent cycle of Old Testament stories recounting the sins of the people and subsequent judgement of God can come across as harsh, unloving, and downright mean. To make it even more personal, the idea of being sentenced to death because of individual sin, or falling short of God’s perfect standards, is a hard pill to swallow. Why is it important for God to be just? Because, how could anyone trust in a God that did nothing when the world was marked with evil and oppression? “Justice flows from God's heart and character. As true and good, God seeks to make the object of his holy love whole. This is what motivates God throughout the Old and New Testaments in his judgments on sin and injustice. These judgments are both individual and corporate in scope.” (Paul Lewis Metzger, “What is Biblical Justice?”, Christianity Today, accessed July 15, 2019, https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2010/summer/biblicaljustice.html).
Good News, Grace and Truth: God’s Character is Justice and Righteousness, and his council is always loyal love and faithfulness.
Two sides of the same coin:
The Psalmist wonders when God justice will prevail and hopes for the the messianic King. We know God’s response and how God establishes his justice.
. We know Christ to be our only hope.
We have enmeshed our world in a realm of sin,
rebelled against God,
accepted inhuman oppression of humanity,
and even crucified God’s son.
God’s world has been trapped by our fall,
governments entangled by human pride,
and nature polluted by human greed.
III. Jesus Christ our only Hope
3. Our only hope is Jesus Christ.
After we refused to live in the image of God,
He was born of the virgin Mary,
sharing our genes and our instincts,
entering our culture, speaking our language,
fulfilling the law of our God.
Being united to Christ’s humanity,
we know ourselves when we rest in Him.
4. Jesus Christ is the hope of God’s world.
In His death,
the justice of God is established;
forgiveness of sin is proclaimed.
On the day of the resurrection,
the tomb was empty; His disciples saw Him;
death was defeated; new life had come.
God’s purpose for the world was sealed.
Rachel Denhollander, a survivor of sexual abuse, presented a paper on justice, written with her husband Jacob, to the Evangelical Theology Society. In the paper, they address how an improper view of God’s justice has led to disastrous mishandling of abuse within the church. To properly understand justice, the Christian must understand the triune unity that brought true atonement for sin. “Father, Son, and Spirit share a single divine nature and, therefore, the same will. The incarnate Son of God dies on the cross not because he was coerced into it by his Father, but because that was the way God chose to forgive sinners and uphold justice. This was not a decision imposed by the Father on the Son, but a decision of the Triune God to accomplish salvation in this way…. a proper Trinitarian understanding also puts the wrath of God into context… At the cross, then, it is not the wrath of the Father that is satisfied by the Son, but rather, it is the justice of God which is satisfied. The atonement does not represent the Father giving vent to deeply personal emotion; rather the atonement is the triune God’s fulfillment of his commitment to upholding righteousness and punishing sin while simultaneously upholding his love for humans.” (“Justice: The Foundation of a Christian Approach to Abuse”, Jacob and Rachel Denhollander, Fathom, November 19, 2018, https://www.fathommag.com/stories/justice-the-foundation-of-a-christian-approach-to-abuse).
25-https://thebibleproject.com/videos/justice/ - Part 2
So what are the implications for us?
26-The Implications of God’s Justice.
26-The Implications of God’s Justice.
-that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people;
-that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged;
-that God calls the church to follow him in this, for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry;
-that God frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind;
-that God supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly;
-that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering;
-that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek the right (Deut. 32:4; Luke 2:14; John 14:27; Eph. 2:14; Isa. 1:16-17; James 1:27; James 5:1-6; Luke 1:46-55; Luke 6:20-26; Luke 7:22; Luke 16:19-31; Ps. 146; Luke 4:16-19; Rom. 6:13-18; Amos 5);
that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream;
-that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others.
In light of our last message series, The primary actions of doing this are not via Social Media (although it can be a tool, but wisely handled), but as Jesus did, through engaging in relationships to share and do the good news of the Gospel.
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Welcoming people of other races into our church, intentionally loving and embracing people of other races and doing what we can to honor the image of God in them and working for their wellbeing as they do ours.
Being humble enough to recognize that we live in a world of injustice, and we are enmeshed in it. This humility both realizes we need Christ in our life to forgive our injustice, to be ambassadors of God’s justice, while not arrogantly thinking we will fix things, only Jesus can.
27-Conclusion: Justice Video
Reference the Reformed Confessions: The Reformed Confessions are statements of faith written to clarify the Gospel at times when the Church was in crisis. Heidelberg Chatechism: Q&A 1, 9-14, 37-39, 45, 56, 59, 60-61, 84, 123, 126 Canons of Dort: Head II, Article 2; Head III, Article 3 Belgic Confession: Articles 14, 17, 20, 23, 37 Belhar Confession: Article 4