Justice means setting things right. A society is known for justice by how it cares for or neglects and mistreats those who are weak, poor or disadvantaged. As long as there have been nations, there have been those who will cheat, wrong, defraud, bamboozle and even hurt those who cannot defend themselves.
Therefore, those who are vulnerable need access to justice. Above the building that houses the United States Supreme Court are four words: “Equal Justice Under Law.” A nation of laws makes certain all people have access to justice.
This is not a recent notion: it is a notion that began with the creation of the world by God.
The Old Testament word for justice is “Mishpat.” It refers to relationships people have with others, themselves and God. Righteousness and justice have a special relationship in the Bible. Right doing produces justice. The prophet Amos taught this relationship in chapter five of the book that bears his name. God took Israel and Judah to task for their treatment of him and each other. It was a time of unequaled prosperity in both nations. Israel and Judah wanted God’s judgment to fall on their enemies but didn’t realize it was about to fall down on them because of their idolatry and mistreatment of the less fortunate.
God’s definition of justice and man’s don’t agree. Unrepentant man is not concerned with true justice. Sin causes men to ignore right doing and just conduct. The first relationship to suffer because of sin is the one man is supposed to have with God. Because mankind lives in sin, man lives in rebellion against God. The prophet Isaiah related what God told him concerning Israel’s sins when he wrote, “But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers,” (Isaiah 59:2 NET).
When people turn their backs on God, their other relationships will suffer similarly. Sinful man mistreats the weak, oppresses the poor and causes the innocent to suffer. Justice is less and less available to those who need it. Sin, because it’s very nature causes bondage, forces people into relationships that are more or less like slavery. The world has always been a place where one man or group of men attempt to enslave others.
The only cure for sin is the blood of Christ applied to sinners through obedience to the gospel. The only access to true justice will come when all people obey the gospel and live according to the law of Christ, the law of liberty the apostle James discussed in James 1:25; 2:12. When all men live obedient to God’s will, justice will roll down like water (Amos 5:24).