In 2019, the IPHC turns its attention to one of the most important and challenging of our seven core values: Justice. It is important because God’s nature, our sinful experience and our treatment of others must be addressed. Thus Micah 6:8 speaks so powerfully to us: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Justice is a challenging topic because it is confrontational and controversial. Justice challenges our attitudes, actions and prejudices—as well as our sense of right and wrong. Justice has political implications that often divide us. Throughout history we “justify” our divergent political philosophies, agendas and policies. Christian unity and witness often fall short due to differing views of what it means to follow Jesus as Lord, and the political ramifications of such views.
In our divided world, IPHC leaders must speak to our churches and to our culture from the standpoint of what the Bible says about justice. Over the next twelve months, we will examine justice as we listen to “voices” that speak to us in the Bible. We will hear the voices of the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized, the powerless and the vulnerable. Most importantly we will hear the voice of God.
In the first quarter of this year various articles will reflect on “A Voice in the Darkness – Is God Just?” In the spring our theme will be “A Voice in the Wilderness – Justice in the Old Testament.” The summer we will focus on “A Voice to the Church – Justice in the New Testament.” We conclude the year with “A Voice for Today – Our Responsibility.”
We start this first quarter with “A Voice in the Darkness.” The noise from social media and news outlets is like a cacophony that blocks out any sense of silence, clarity or patience. It is moral chaos in a world that has intentionally rejected divine revelation. The irony is that while rejecting scriptural truth, we still blame God for the evils of this world.
All of us have these questions: Is there no justice? Why does God allow suffering? Why is life so unfair? Where is God if He really exists? How can God be just and yet violence continue in His name? How does God justify His sinful creatures?
These are legitimate questions. The very fact that we ask them confirms that we know something is terribly wrong. We know there must be an answer.
In early December I saw the evidence of our fallen, unjust and callous sinful condition. I visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Our guide, speaking with a broken voice, showed us the memorial tree for Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. He shared how Wallenberg’s brave efforts saved his grandmother and mother from the dark night that fell over Europe in the 1930s and 40s. The indescribable horrors of that era continue to cast darkness over our thinking about God and justice.
Throughout history spiritual darkness has manifested itself in the realities of daily life. The Hebrew prophet Micah ministered the Word of God in such a time. In the period 750-700 B.C. Micah, along with Isaiah, delivered the Word to the southern kingdom of Judah. It was the time of the rise of the Assyrian Empire and threats against both Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel. Both prophets spoke warnings to Judah and Israel and pleaded with them to repent. The northern kingdom was destroyed in 722 by the Assyrians as God used them to exact divine punishment on their idolatry and injustice.
The setting of Micah 6 is God’s lawsuit against His people. God compelled the Israelites to appear with their complaint against Him, and in turn “the Lord has a complaint against His people” (6:2). The divine complaint is directly related to Judah, as their sin is like the injustice of Ahab’s corrupt reign some 100 years earlier (Micah 6:10-16; 1 Kings 16:29 – 1 Kings 22:39).
Ahab’s sin was greed. He was willing to lie and murder in order to fulfill his lust (1 Kings 21).
The three main sections of Micah begin with the word “hear” (Micah 1:2; 3:1; 6:1). Given Isaiah and Micah’s warning against idolatry and injustice, one cannot help but discern the fundamental creed of Israel: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one” (Deuteronomy 6:1). The imperative “hear” means that someone is speaking. That someone is the voice of God.
God’s voice calls us to the type of true worship that leads to transformed lives. The apostle Paul’s warning in Romans 12:1-2 is also instructive. We so easily fall into doing the motions of public worship, but we remain conformed to the world. Whether on Sunday or in our private devotional lives, we are meant to be transformed by the power of the Word and the presence of the Living God.
The prophetic call continually challenges us to live consistent with acts of worship of the Living God. Micah told us that true worship must include justice, mercy and humility (6:8). God’s will is not hidden. He says: “He has shown you, O man, what is good.”
God is clear about what holiness demands. We do justice. We love mercy. We walk humbly before God. Justice is done in relation to others; mercy flows from genuine love of God and others; and humility erases our pride and arrogance.
May this year be a season of transformative justice as we hear the voice of God.
This article was first published in Encourage magazine.
Written By: Dr. Doug Beacham