Let me ask you a question. What Is Justice?  When you hear the word justice, what comes to mind? Is it a response to senseless violence? Do you cry out to stop all human trafficking? Or, perhaps you leap to defund the only organization we have for law enforcement? Maybe, you grew up in Appalachia and all the billboards on domestic violence made an impression on you. For some, it is about the distribution of food and the agricultural floors for pricing, and how some farmers are paid not to grow crops, while people starve. Again, what does justice mean? Jesus said, there will always be poor people, and that in our sin-cursed and the fallen world there would be trouble. (Matthew 26:11, John 16:33) 

Biblically defined, justice is not only punishment, but it also holds with it the concept of equity, which is proper and fitting. Thus, justice is punishment, but justice is also the reward of righteousness. To understand justice, we must look at the work of Jesus and His atonement. 1 John 2:2~He is the propitiation (expiation) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (ESV) Expiation is the act of making amends for guilt. It emphasizes the removal of guilt through a payment (Jesus’ life) for the penalty of sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21~God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV) Are you guilty of sin? Of course, we all are. 

While propitiation, the act of appeasing God, emphasizes how Christ averts God’s wrath and brings justice by way of the cross. Romans 3:25 ~God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– (NIV) I believe the atonement of humanity’s sin, was violent. Why? God was upset with humanity for all of the poor choices they continued to make. 

Jesus paid a debt on Calvary for you and me. Hebrews 10:4~It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (NIV) We must Understand, when Jesus Christ came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) He wasn’t just another sacrifice in a long line of sacrifices. Jesus was the final sacrifice ever needed. As time persists theologians, in an attempt to define and explain the meaning of Jesus’s death on the cross, as it relates to God and believers, use human words that fail. 

Both words are related to reconciliation, since it is through Jesus’ death on the cross, atones and reconciles us to a holy God of love. Paul even discusses this in Romans 5:9-11, sharing how we are saved from wrath and reconciled by Christ, who was ransomed from our sin. Previously Paul wrote Corinth a second letter, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 where he shares how God has, in Christ, reconciled us to Himself, not counting our trespasses against us. Humanity has always needed a Savior since leaving the garden in Genesis 3:23. It is a cry for justice. Jesus, when He came 2000 years ago delivers Justice, making us right with God by removing our sin. 

Is there something in your life that needs justice? Remember, justice holds both sides of the coin. Perhaps you have been helping out during a really difficult 14 months and you need to hear, well done. Or, it could be that you have slacked off a bit and need to be encouraged to get more involved. Whatever the case may be, there are places in our lives where we could give more, or do more for the Gospel. I want you to pray about doing more for your local church. God is calling you to be His hands and feet and do some practical ministry in the name of Jesus. 

Blessed are the merciful

When we encounter the words of the prophet many of them remind us, as Amos does, that we are to be a people who share God’s mercy. The church today, truly needs to wake up and realize that faith is not just about being good, but it is also about doing good. Matthew 5:17~Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (NIV) The prophets preached God’s great love, our need for fidelity, and living right before the Lord. Part of our living is done through actions, deeds, and the ministry of mercy. So, how do we at Mt Gallant practice the ministry of mercy? One way is we feed the hungry. Partnering with Covenant Presbyterian who hosts the Plentiful Harvest Kitchen, we prepare and feed hot meals to the hungry. A second way is by collecting groceries for the Fort Mill Food Pantry, hosted by a sister church. 

Still, we have many of our people who belong to Civitan. Whom we host for their regular monthly meetings, or did prior to COVID. If you are looking for a way to roll your sleeves up and get dirty, by helping those in need, then join. This is what Amos takes aim at. Amos is an Old Testament prophet who prophesied and wrote in the 8th century, from 750-741BC, near the end of Israel. When the 10 Northern tribes were beginning their own shutdown for judgment would shutter the nation. Facing that impending moment of God’s judgment enters a prophet who instructs us on how to act as the world we know, is closing. 

Amos stands and proclaims, to the people, this is the way we ought to act and live before the Lord. Amos 8:11~Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. (ESV) I fear that day may be upon us. When the prophet rolls in with a message of justice reconciliation is at the forefront of their mind. Amos’ prophecy took aim at both Israel and Judah. Speaking clearly during the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah king in Judah, which makes him a contemporary of Isaiah. Israel is only a couple of decades from captivity, as they will fall in 722 BC.

If you knew that we shared a similar fate, how would you go about sharing God’s mercy? Would you join an organization to help you achieve this goal or would you create an opportunity to share the love of God through acts of kindness and mercy? Would you perform works of charity and love? If you would know the end is near, what is stopping you from doing right now? There are volunteer opportunities everywhere, especially since COVID. In fact, Fidelity Charitable says that 2 in 3 have either dropped or quit volunteering altogether. I want you to know that the Lord could sure use you to help others and I know that the people need you. Why not take time today to find a place to volunteer.

Let Justice Roll

What God desires from all of His children is fidelity. Remember God has called us. 1 Peter 2:9~…that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV) Where were you before you responded to God? The prophet says repentance is a necessity and no bargains could be struck except those of prayer. 

The repentant heart of an individual returning to God, discovers the Lord’s long-standing promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14~if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (NIV) As we consider the words of another prophet, we turn to Amos. Where God’s prophet proclaims how as believers, we are to act with justice in everything we do. 

Justice is a noun, and the Bible defines it as the morally and ethically right thing. So, when we think of God, His choices, responses, or His standard they are to become our standard for justice. Micah 6:8~He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice (מִשְׁפָּט mišpāṭ), and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? In Hebrew, the word is (מִשְׁפָּט mišpāṭ) Justice, lawful, order, right, is a very prominent theme of scripture. 

Amos 5:24~But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (ESV) A shortcoming in the church today is flowing in God’s righteousness. The body, community of faith, or the church at large is comprised of believers in Jesus and not a building. The ministry of the church is to flow in mercy, be an example of humility to make disciples. As we discuss justice, we converse with the social gospel, not to minimize heaven and hell or even the second coming of Jesus Christ, but as divine agents of grace who administer the Lord’s mercy. For just as mercy drew us into Christ, so also mercy will draw others into a relationship with a just and loving God. 

Today, why not take a few moments and consider where you share the mercy of God. Ask the Lord to help reveal places and times that you can share His mercy and grace with others. Then when the moment arises let God’s mercy flow through you.