Seek Justice Part #2: What is Injustice
Updated: Mar 9, 2022
WHY THE CHURCH IS LOST ON SOCIAL JUSTICE
Review: In Part 1 we looked at how the Bible defines "Justice". Specifically the Bible repeats protecting the widows and the fatherless, providing for the needy, aiding the oppressed, and obeying God’s commands as the primary behaviors that lead us to or demonstrate justice. In addition, justice is discussed 10x more frequently in the Old testament as in the New, which should help us understand that we must look at the entire Bible to truly understand this subject. If we claim to be "Christians" or followers of Yeshua/Jesus than justice can only be understood and pursued on His terms.
What is injustice? We must look beyond saying, “well, it’s the opposite of justice.” While that sentiment is true, it doesn’t fully encapsulate a complete understanding of what God describes in His Word. This is important to define, because if God tells us to seek justice then we must be able to recognize injustice so we know when we are to act against it. Injustice is mentioned far fewer times in the Bible than justice, however, these verses exist for our benefit. Let’s explore a few of them to get a better understanding of God’s ideas about justice and injustice. Leviticus 19:14-16 net “You must not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. You must fear your God; I am the Lord. “‘You must not deal unjustly in judgment: You must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich. You must judge your fellow citizen fairly. You must not go about as a slanderer among your people. You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am YHVH”
The meaning for unjust or injustice in this verse comes from 3 Hebrew words “lo asah mishpat”. Translators essentially combine these words which mean “no, make, judgement” to build the idea of injustice. Consider, justice can only be “just” if it is an equitable/fair application of a predetermined good guideline, rule, or law. Since we know God is the source of all good things, and we also know that God does not change His mind or lie, then we can determine (as we explored in part #1) that YHVH is the only source of true justice and He instructs us in His justice in the Torah. To get a better understanding, the surrounding verses describe the behaviors considered in Scripture to be unjust.
Leviticus 19:11-18 net 11 “‘You must not steal, you must not tell lies, and you must not deal falsely with your fellow citizen. 12 You must not swear falsely in my name, so that you do not profane the name of your God. I am YHVH. 13 You must not oppress your neighbor or commit robbery against your neighbor. You must not withhold the wages of the hired laborer overnight until morning. 14 You must not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. You must fear your God; I am YHVH 15 “‘You must not deal unjustly in judgment: You must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich. You must judge your fellow citizen fairly. 16 You must not go about as a slanderer among your people. You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am YHVH. 17 You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. 18 You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am YHVH.”
There is a significant list of examples here (12) to provide a clearer picture of what injustice looks like in a practical sense. Review the injustices offered in Leviticus 19 and compare them to teachings, commands, or principles given to us in the New Testament. This important demonstration proves once again YHVH's instructions on injustice and justice are unchanging and practical even to our lives today.
Stealing (Romans 13:9)
Lying, false testimony (John 8:44)
False dealings (Luke 19:1-10)
Falsely swearing or making an oath by YHVH's name. (Matthew 5:33-37)
Oppress neighbors (James 2:1-7)
Withholding wages (James 5:1-6)
Curse the deaf (Luke 7:22)
Put a stumbling block for the blind (Luke 14:12-24)
Partiality in judgements (Acts 10:34-35)
Slander (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Not offering assistance to someone in a life-threatening situation (Luke 10:30-37)
Hatred (1 John 4:20)
Taking personal vengeance (Romans 12:19)
Holding a grudge (Matthew 5:33-38)
Continuing with Leviticus 19, YHVH did not just tell the Hebrews "thou shall not..." He also instructed them with behaviors which demonstrate justice.
Leviticus 19:14-18 net "14 You must not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. You must fear your God; I am YHVH. 15 “‘You must not deal unjustly in judgment: You must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich. You must judge your fellow citizen fairly. 16 You must not go about as a slanderer among your people. You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am YHVH. 17 You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. 18 You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am YHVH.” Each of these concepts of "justice" are also reinforced in the New Testament as well.
Fear God (Matthew 10:28)
Judge Fairly (Matthew 23:23)
Reprove Sin (Ephesians 5:11)
Love Your Neighbor (Mark 12:31)
God asks those who believe in Him to walk by His never-changing standard of justice, not by the wishy-washy, rudderless standards the social forces around us. Justice does not depend on us, it depends on God, we are simply to learn what His instructions are and obey them with all of our heart, mind, and strength. Then and only then will the society we live in truly experience the fruit of true justice. Remember Leviticus 19:15 uses only 3 Hebrew words to create this concept of injustice: Lo-”no, not, do not” Asah-”make, create, do” (same word used for creation in Genesis) Mishpat-”Judge, judgement”
If we were to translate this literally, the text would read “no make/create judgement”. Obviously none of us talk like this, so does this simply mean “do not pervert justice?” This is definitely a reasonable translation, but the Hebrew wording implies a step farther than just a “perverting” or warping of justice, it implies a creation or a making of our own justice. In other words Leviticus 19:15 is teaching us we cannot reject God’s standard to implement our own standard of justice. Think about that. To be truly just we can only follow the guidelines given to us by the only good, just, and impartial being out there, YHVH. We cannot conjure up true justice in our flesh. Consider the following 2 verses:
Mark 10:18 ESV "18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."
Matt. 7:15-20 ESV "15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits." The frightening truth surrounding the social justice discourse in America is most of it is producing and bearing bad fruit. It is resulting in more division, more abuse, more bitterness, and more slander and lies. It is producing the fruit of its father, the devil whose aim is to steal, kill, and destroy. We may rightfully expect these results from the world and its system, unfortunately, we are largely seeing the same fruit bore in the church as well as they add their voices to the rising swell or simply rejecting the premise all together. In the United States, the time has come for us to decide if we will return back to our Creator, learn His ways, and submit once again to His justice, and respond by His standard and methods to injustice. Only then will we truly be able to love our neighbor as ourselves. That means recognizing and seeking justice on behalf of those who have experienced injustice, while at the same time developing the needed to discernment to recognize when false calls for justice wrongly persist. We must set aside our political leanings and seek the truth of YHVH. It is in that pursuit YHVH promises to answer us, which should lead us to right Biblical action, which we will explore in part #3.
This is the second part of a 4 part series on the Biblical proclamation to "Seek Justice". Catch up on the rest of the series: Part #1 Part #3 Part #4