Published by DonDavidson on

A former president is on trial and we could have a verdict from the jury soon, perhaps before I even finish and publish this blog entry. I’m sure everyone who is interested in his case hopes that justice will be done, although for some justice would mean a conviction, while for others justice would mean an acquittal.

But for God’s prophets, justice meant far more than a mere conviction or acquittal. Here is what Isaiah said about justice:

Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor,
Obtain justice for the orphan,
Plead for the widow’s case.[1]

For Isaiah, “justice” meant doing what was right on behalf of people who were poor or powerless:

Woe to those who enact unjust statutes
And to those who constantly record harmful decisions,
So as to deprive the needy of justice
And rob the poor among My people of their rights,
So that widows may be their spoil
And that they may plunder the orphans.[2]

Prophets like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah were similarly concerned for the weak, the helpless, and the innocent:

This is what the Lord says: “Do justice and righteousness, and save one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. And do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”[3]

The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery, and they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have oppressed the stranger without justice.[4]

Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “This is what the Lord of armies has said: ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’ ”[5]

If the words of these prophets sound a lot like the teachings of Jesus, there is a reason for that. Jesus was also concerned about the poor and the weak, while he had little patience for the powerful, self-righteous, wicked religious leaders of his time:

Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You as a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” And the King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.”[6]

Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love personal greetings in the marketplaces, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive all the more condemnation.[7]

So let us remember—and practice—what the prophet Micah told us:

He has told you, mortal one, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?[8]

[1]. Isaiah 1:17

[2]. Isaiah 10:1-2

[3]. Jeremiah 22:3 (see also Jeremiah 7:5-7

[4]. Ezekiel 22:29

[5]. Zechariah 7:8-10

[6]. Matthew 25:34-40

[7]. Luke 20:46-47; see also Matthew 23:23-24 and Mark 12:38-40

[8]. Micah 6:8


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *