Justice and Righteousness

“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream!” Amos 5:24.

This is a study of how justice for the oppressed and righteousness are linked together in the Bible. Justice in the Bible is about putting right the ways in which men oppress the disadvantaged, the poor and the stranger. Righteousness is about right living and is applied to men, kings and to God. There are 35 instances in the Old Testament where the words justice and righteousness appear together, linked in the same verse.

Attributes of God

Job says,”The Almighty… In his justice and great righteousness he does not oppress”. Job 37:23.

Jeremiah says, “I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight”. Jeremiah 9:24.

The Psalmist says, “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep”. Psalms 36:6

Attributes of Kings

When the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon she said, “Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.” 1 Kings 10:9 and 2 Chronicles 9:8.

Attributes of men

“He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” Psalm 37:6

Attributes of Jesus Christ

Isaiah, referring in prophecy to the coming of the Messiah said, “But with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the Earth”. Isaiah 11:4

Attributes of the church

Hosea prophesied these words, which can only really refer to the church, the bride of Christ, “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion“. Hosea 2:19

The New Testament

There are 93 references in the New Testament that refer to justice or righteousness though none that link the words directly together. However, bearing in mind that in the Old Testament, prophecies that refer to Jesus and the church to link these 2 words together: the principles remain true. Paul says of the Corinthian church, “See what this godly sorrow has produced in you… What longing, what concern, what a readiness to see justice done.” 2Corinthians 7:11.

God obviously cares a great deal about justice for the oppressed and wants his people, his kings and his church to apply justice in their everyday lives. Let us like the church in Corinth have a readiness to see justice done, for the poor, the oppressed, the disadvantaged and powerless of this world.

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Comments

  1. This is good George. It was only this morning that I awoke with the thought of “seek justice” ringing in my spirit. I went to Isaiah 1:17: learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widows cause.
    Then Micah 6:8 He has told you what is good and what the Lord requires of you. To seek justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.
    Finally, Matt 6:23. In berating the Pharisees, he says you have neglected the weightier matters of Justice and mercy and faithfulness.
    God is clearly calling His Church in these days, loudly and unmistakably to deal with such things in our community and neighborhood. As always, it has to start with me and who is my neighbour?

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  2. I think God is for justice, because He is for righteousness, and justice flows from righteousness. I think this principle applies to all society, at every level. Obviously, it is easier for the powerful in society to influence justice than for the powerless and defenceless. There is therefore a logical argument that those who have power to act in any situation should aim to bring about justice for those who are powerless to do so. That then raises the question “What is justice in this situation?” Some of the recurring, specific principles in the Bible are that we should show no partiality, accept no bribes, defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and love the alien (e.g. Deuteronomy 10, 17-19; James 1,27.) No doubt there are other such principles, stemming from the commandments to love God and our neighbour.

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    • Some good points here Andrew. I like the bit about how we should show no partiality, accept no bribes, defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and love the alien. George.

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