Amen to Judgment and Justice

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Prov 29:15  The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

Prov 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (NIV)

See also Proverbs 22:15, 23:13-14

Have you ever been in a grocery store or other public place, maybe even a family gathering, and seen a child running out of control? Maybe the parents are oblivious or maybe they’re being run over or maybe they feel helpless, and you think that child needs … what? Out of control children provoke a feeling that something ought to be done.Then again, maybe you’ve been in a place where a parent over reacted, at least it seemed like it to you, and responded too loudly, too harshly, too severely to a child’s behavior. Was the child treated fairly? Too harshly? Abuses? Perhaps we want to see correction and discipline, but also have a concern for fairness and justice?What if it’s not a child that is misbehaving and creating a disturbance? What if it’s an adult? Maybe committing a crime, maybe hurting someone else, maybe just being obnoxious or selfish? Like seeing a child out of control, would we like to see some discipline imposed, some appropriate judgment and justice? Has there ever been that time when you saw someone being mean or abusive or behaving dangerously, and you wished there was a cop coming around the corner, or that someone would do something?

Prov 10:13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment.

See also Prov 14:3, 26:3

The wise man wrote that people without self discipline, people without good judgment, need to be corrected by others, need to be held accountable by someone with authority.Do you believe children need discipline?  What about adults?  What about societies and nations?Do you believe that there ought to be justice?  That some behavior merits punishment, not merely correction, but punishment?Correction is not the same as punishment though they may be intertwined, and punishment is not the same as consequences, though consequences may sometimes feel like punishment.Bad behavior produces bad consequences, but consequences aren’t necessarily punishment, nor are they the same thing as justice.

Gen 2:15-17 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

What God described there was not punishment, but consequences. If you jump off a roof and break your leg, the broken leg is a consequence of what you did, but not a punishment for it. God wasn’t going to punish man with death if he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, death would be the result, the consequence of the action. (See also Rom 5:12, 1 Cor 15:21)The only escape for anyone from the consequences of sin, and the only satisfaction of the requirements of justice apart from death, is what God has done to demonstrate his justice, rightly accepting the consequences of sin himself.

Rom 3:21-26  21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (NIV)

In the interest of justice in ancient times, God said that he would require an accounting for the life blood of every human, Genesis 9:4-6.The scriptures affirm that some things that humans do are justly worthy of death, Acts 25:11, Romans 1:32.When justice fails, people suffer, not only individually, but as families and nations. Justice is needed for a nation to function properly. Knowing that, and knowing that God is the author of justice and is wholly just himself, justice ought to be craved by the people of God, who have nothing to fear from righteous judgment.

Prov 21:15 15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.

Prov 28:5 5 Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully. Prov 29:7 7 The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

Very often, justice will not be provided by human hands, human minds, human governments, but the longing for it is part of the character of godliness cultivated in themselves and taught to one another by the followers of Christ. Even after death, the desire to see justice done, including eternal justice, is part of the hope of the servant of God. Justice must prevail, or eternal glory and rest for those who have been justified make no sense.Consider: Revelation 6:9-11, God’s martyrs cry out for justice and are consoled with the assurance that it will come in God’s time.Revelation 19:11-16, the savior who is King of Kings is also the warrior of justice who strikes down the nations, judging them by the Word of God.Revelation 19:1-3, when God’s enemies, the enemies of God’s people, are brought down, the multitudes of heaven celebrate the justice and judgment of God.Isaiah 61:8, God loves justice and hates iniquity.Isaiah 66:22-24, when the new heavens and the new earth have become a tangible reality as the dwelling place for God’s people in his presence, his people will recognize and accept and endorse the reality of consequences for sin, the rightness of punishment for choosing rebellion against God. In this world, God’s people should love justice. In the world to come, God’s people will have learned to gladly say “Amen” to the justice and the judgment of God.

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