When a person thinks of justice it is usually coupled with a feeling of fight or flight. Fighting justice generally means stretching the truth if man is guilty, or self uplifting speech for innocence if guilt is not with the individual. Now, mercy on the other hand seems pretty simple: you did a bad thing, but instead of the just penalty, something else or nothing else, thanks to love.
If a person really stops and examines the long term repercussions (good or bad) of mercy and justice, they will find that what we as a society have been taught about mercy and justice is simply not accurate. The inaccuracies are subtle, however the various inaccuracies are purposefully and skillfully placed: no surprise there.
If us earthlings have been taught to avoid justice and embrace mercy, maybe it is time to re-evaluate. Could it be that embracing justice and accepting mercy when appropriate, instead of holding onto mercy with a kung-fu death grip is where it’s at? God’s mercy is beautiful and everlasting for sure and without a doubt; however, mercy does find it’s finish line when appropriate. Reality clearly portrays that.
On the other hand The Savior sets, tends, and executes the fires of justice with skill and unyielding perfection for all of His children. In the Hebrew language the word translated to righteousness is Tzedeka. In English we have this word “just,” and then another word “righteousness.” In Hebrew Tzedeka means just and the idea we have for righteousness is understood as part of it’s definition. Therefore, a just person is living under God’s covering and God is living through them.
Let’s move even farther away from the world’s base and adulterated understanding of these characteristics’ of Our Savior by first taking the time, and exploring the way the world defines mercy and justice. After that we will contrast those definitions with the way our Father slowly unfolds the truths of these things for us through satisfyingly savory stories. Letting His Scripture bring blossoming, manifold wisdom. These concepts are not necessarily for you to ascribe yourself to at this moment, but for you to keep in mind. Maybe they will become helpful in the future. Let’s manumit you from some of that bondage that has been keeping you in a rut!
Nelson’s Compact Bible Dictionary:
Mercy: The aspect of God’s love that causes Him to help the miserable. Let’s stop there for a jiffy. “The aspect” means that if you seek His mercy only, you are not inviting Him completely into your life. God is love. Love is more than the simplicity mercy has offered so many. Try not to make the common mistake of simplifying the greatest thing that ever was: to diminish love of it’s value.
Next, let’s give this word miserable it’s due. If a person is miserable it is because they do not have joy. Joy is what God’s people experience in the good and bad times thanks to hope! If God is going to help somebody with little or no hope, first He has to explore why they have no hope: hopelessness comes from not having a place in His kingdom: nothing to look forward to. Now, what would cause a person not to have a place in His kingdom? One common reason is they are not living justly or even willing to try. Without God’s sacrifice, there would be no hope. But, if a miserable person accepts that their life belongs to Him, trusting that He will carry them through whatever it is that will fix them and make them valuable and necessary for His kingdom, then they have hope. Hurray! This trade, of a miserable person’s life for the value that hope brings is an even exchange wouldn’t you say? God gets the valueless characteristics a person is willing to change, and He turns that wisp of smoke and mirrors into characteristics that He can use to serve His agendas. How does God do this turning bad into good for people? Through the perfect mix of justice and mercy. How will you know this perfect mix when it is staring you in the face, if the worlds definition’s of these words keeps steering you off track?
Let’s find out. Back to Nelson’s Compact definition: Those who are miserable may be so either because of breaking God’s law or because of circumstances beyond their control. God shows compassion towards those who have broken His law although such mercy is selective, demonstrating that it is not deserved. God’s mercy on the miserable extends beyond punishment that is withheld. Withheld punishment keeps us from hell, but it does not get us into heaven. God’s mercy is greater than this. God also shows mercy by actively helping those who are miserable due to circumstances beyond their control. We see this aspect of mercy especially in the life of our Lord and Savior… it goes on to describe what they see as merciful things Yeshua did. That definition is so close to the truth and so skillfully wrong. Next, here is how Nelson’s defines justice:
Justice: God’s fair and impartial treatment of all people. As a God of justice He is interested in fairness as well as in what makes right relationships. His actions and decisions are true and right. His demands on individuals and nations to look after victims of oppression are just demands. As Lord and Judge, God brings justice to nations and sets things right in behalf of the poor, oppressed and victims of injustice. For the wicked, unjust and the oppressor, God as Supreme Judge of the earth is a dreaded force, but for all who are unjustly treated God’s just action is reason for hope. How beautifully this definition keeps those in bondage: If you are oppressed, God is your hero. If you are successful or not oppressed, God is against you. I spit at and curse the hands and minds that penned those definitions as they are a building block in the walls that keep my loved one’s from achieving lives spilling over with salt and light.
Instead of diving into the nitty gritty of all that is wrong there, we are going to contrast the oh-so-close, yet oh-so-far away with not the opposite, but the truth that these definitions are trying to masquerade as.
In the Word, can you guess what circumstance is assigned to define these two characteristics of love for us? If you guessed creation you are wrong. It is not Noah or Moses’ stories either. Of all the circumstances that ever were, The Savior has wisely chosen the circumstance of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. Can you guess which patriarch’s are used to show us how mercy really works, and how justice is the best way to clean us up and get us walking on our own tune feet? Abraham and his nephew Lot is the correct answer to that question.
Who do you think has been assigned mercy and who has been assigned justice in the story? You might be surprised at what receiving mercy, in reality, entails and who gets justice. The setting is Sodom and Gomorrah about 24 hours before destruction. Lot invites two angels into his home. ANGELS I tell you. Their job is to be awesome all the time, and their awesomeness is indescribable. They don’t mess things up. You can trust them to be accurately administering The Almighty’s instructions. When mercy comes up it is Lot saying to these angels “Thank you for multiplying your mercy upon your servant.”
Why did he thank them for multiplying their mercy on him and what are the repercussions of these things? Well, it is because he refused to follow their instructions, even when death was at his door: “No, don’t send me into that wilderness lest some evil overtake me and I die, instead…” let me be saved in this other way. I am not going to follow your instructions.
Lot, Lot, Lot! Sigh. The angels did not argue or even tell him what was about to befall him. They simply acquiesce: “…but hurry because we cannot destroy this city until you leave.” He thanks them. Read what happens to and around Lot as mercy overtakes him. This is important, so I press you to do so. Right now. Go and earn the few minutes to read Genesis 19:17 – 38 at the least. Starting at chapter seventeen or so gives you much more context as to all that is going on.
Seeing the overall ramifications and behaviors necessary to continually put each of your individual actions under mercy’s wing is not quite the same as we were taught, is it?
Switching gears, here we are at the same time, but outside the city at Abraham’s gates. Following a meal and departure, The Almighty as the narrator touches on what He is doing and why He is doing it for Abraham.
“Then the men arose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. And Yahweh said “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in Him?”
“For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of Yahweh, to do justice and judgement, that Yahweh may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”
In a future article and video, we will dive much deeper into justice. This article’s purposes are to A) show you that a lot can be gleaned out of this particular story, and B) to contrast these seemingly opposing forces.
In closing the beginning of this lesson, Abraham has been entrusted as a major stepping stone on the way to learning who The Lord is. It is harder to have a positive relationship with The Savior if you do not have a friend in Abraham. He was so good to The Savior throughout His life. He showed love to The Savior and allowed The Savior to show love to him. Abraham would seek out justice for his household and embraced it for himself, while displaying unyielding faith even when member’s of his household got themselves into sticky situations.
Lastly, be aware of the schemes of the enemy. This world has taught us that justice is for the oppressed and the poor. For the unskilled and unlucky people. They get punishment, not the upper class.
The powerful people, the skilled and the wealthy are great at dodging justice and getting away with unjust behavior. College teaches our young people how to do just that! How else would the world be evil if the powerful’s majority were not that way? Conversely, those who are not obedient to society’s ways experience the justice of their fellow man through various trials and tribulations, designed to keep society functioning properly. Unfortunately, this system either forces us to be treated unjustly or to treat others unjustly.
This oppresive psychological device spills into relationships with Yeshua, sowing untrust in Him. Be easy. Allow Him to administer justice to us, to you. How short-sighted we are when we start out! When we become mature, justice is welcomed and we love being turned into more valuable members of His bride for His goodness and grace. When we learn to behave justly, more responsibilities, skills, and wisdom are placed in our safe-keeping.
Tune in for a new article and video posted every Friday at midnight. This season’s 13 week series ends in the middle of January.
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Shalom, in The Savior