What is “justice?” As we set out to explore what the Bible teaches about “justice,” we first need to back up and make sure we know what we are striving towards. As we begin to ponder what the Bible teaches about this rather nebulous idea, we must first make sure we have the right concept of what the Bible actually is.
The Bible tells a story, in all its parts. Narratives, possibly the most prominent genre in the Bible, embed deep and rich theology in the drama of stories, of narratives. Individual stories (e.g. David and Goliath) are set within larger stories (the introduction of kingship in Israel and the division of Israel into South and North), and further set in the whole biblical story in its unfolding. The narratives of the New Testament present Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of this Old Testament story; the four gospel writers offer presentations of Jesus Christ that unite in their conviction that the polyvalent story of the Old Testament has found its conclusion in the promised Messiah. The narrative of Acts paints for the reader the growth of the story of Jesus not only to the Jewish people, but to the nations of the world.
Further, the poets, sages and prophets of the Old Testament look at this story and offer inspired reflections and commentary on both delights and pains, the successes and the failures, in the experiences of Israel and her people. The letters of the New Testament, written to real followers of Jesus in the real world of the Roman Empire, answer pastoral questions and give inspired instruction on following Jesus faithfully in a world of opposition.
In other words, the Bible is not just about an individual and his/her life. Nor is it a book of rules and certainly not a book of some abstract religion. The Bible tells a story in very earthy ways, in the down-and-dirty world of human existence: joys, pains, successes, failures, obedience and rebellion. And coursing through this immense story is a thread of restoration, of shalom. Of justice, so defined.
PRAYER: Lord, I know from Your Word that You love justice. Please share with me what that means and how I can participate in the restoration You are undertaking.