Two of the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount reflect the sentiment of God’s command concerning justice in Deuteronomy.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5.5) has caused a considerable amount of confusion as to its meaning over the years.
Dallas Willard explains that the meek are the oppressed and vulnerable, who have been humbled by life’s circumstances. God does not overlook these people and reserves an inheritance for them.
The next Beatitude has often been understood to refer to hunger for moral and spiritual righteousness. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5.6).
Willard points out that hunger in this instance can also be for justice. “Righteousness” and “justice” are translations of the same Greek word.
I agree with Dallas Willard that people who have been humbled by life long for justice. Praise God! The millions who have suffered injustice and oppression have God’s promise to fulfill justice on their part.
The Hebrew nation was about to enter the promised land. It would be quite wrong for the promised land to be one of injustice. Therefore, God intended for justice to prevail.
Justice and Only Justice
Rudy Ross explains the origin of the system of judges in Israel in today’s YouTube video that can be found on the Bob Spradling channel. He also expands on what he calls the supreme court in chapter 17.
Deuteronomy states the appointment and qualifications of judges.
Deuteronomy 16.18-20 – You shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes, in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall render just decisions for the people.
You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality; and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.
Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
With five separate phrases, God emphasizes the kind of justice he desires.
— Render just decisions.
— Do not distort justice.
— Show no partiality.
— Do not accept bribes.
— Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.
God’s love for people who have been humbled by life is evident in these decrees, for the powerless are often the ones who suffer from injustice.
Failed Nations and Injustice
God reserves a promise for nations who practice justice.
— Deuteronomy 7.12-14 – If you heed these ordinances, by diligently observing them, the Lord your God will maintain with you the covenant loyalty that he swore to your ancestors;
He will love you, bless you, and multiply you . . . You shall be the most blessed of peoples.
It is tragic, but not surprising, to note that the poorest nations in the world today are those where justice is lacking. Leaders have disregarded God’s direction and their country has suffered.
Jesus could have been speaking about nations when he said, “For those who want to save their life will lose it” (Mark 8.35).
While the powerful “save their life,” not only do they lose but the nation also loses.
In the 1970s and ’80s, President Mobutu was the dictator of Zaire (what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the world’s poorest.
Some examples of how he sought to “save his life” are almost unbelievable but tragically true.
— He constructed a runway long enough to land the French jet, the Concord.
— He rented the Concord to take him on shopping trips to Paris and other European cities.
— He also built a palace, a hydroelectric dam, and a Coca-Cola bottling plant.
— He got Don King to host one of the greatest bouts in boxing ever, Foreman versus Ali, and put on a supporting music concert featuring James Brown.
— He skimmed over 4 billion dollars from his people to fulfill his lust for “saving his life.”
— The aid intended to help the starving men, women, and children of Zaire was used for his own pleasures.
The injustice of Mobutu has affected the lives of millions of people he was intended to serve. By serving himself, they became the losers.
Sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan, and North Korea all compete to be the poorest countries in the world. Injustice is a central feature of these failed states.
Jesus promised something to people who cease to live for themselves. His message was, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (Mark 8.35).
Nations whose leaders characterize a giving spirit, even if they don’t serve the good news of Jesus, have a history of prosperity. Giving and justice seem to go together, and prosperity is not far behind.
As we lose our lives in a relationship with Jesus and his gospel teaching, we will be concerned about justice.
— We will care for those who have been humbled by life and are easy prey for oppressors.
— We ask God’s mercy for the millions who live under predatory regimes.
— We will not support businesses that endorse injustice.
— We will be just in all of our dealings.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I discuss the judicial system that God designed for Israel. Rudy has insights you will want to consider. The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.