Advent Justice

I flew out to Los Angeles for work this past week. As I found my seat, I plopped down next to a friendly older gentleman who immediately started up a conversation. As the engines began to roar, I learned that he worked in warehousing for a medical device company, that he was originally from the Iron Range up north, and in God’s providence, he was a believer. The conversation naturally took a deeper turn, and eventually we started discussing the general cultural climate of the age we find ourselves in. One thing kept coming up… the topic of justice – or more specifically, injustice. It’s everywhere right now. A couple weeks ago Pastor David gave us that vivid mental picture of the moral fires that seem to be burning all around us. Every day there’s a new story coming out about injustice – and oftentimes that injustice is oozing out from the halls of power, where justice is meant to flow. Whether it’s stories about older men preying on young women, politicians caught in a web of lies  and deception, or business execs accused of financial or sexual wrongdoing, our culture is presently consumed with the topic of justice, fairness, equity, morality. 

 

We all feel the problem that’s out there to varying degrees – and in a way, it can feel paralyzing – and that’s not new. In one of the most ancient books of the Bible, Job expresses this same sentiment, “Behold I cry out, Violence! But I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice.” There is no justice, and where is the calvary? 

 

However – it’s not just in the news where the topic of injustice comes up frequently. It comes up in our daily lives. How many times in your life have you thought or said, “That’s not fair!” How many times did you feel that you didn’t get what you deserved or someone else got what they didn’t? How often did you feel taken advantage of, even by those you love? Injustice, corruption, bias, unfairness can cause deep hurt and can be hard to let go of as a victim. 

 

But this is the season of Advent – like Joe said last week, the season of waiting – and we’re waiting for an arrival. And Jesus arrived as the true solution to the problem of injustice – as the Hero we’ve all been waiting for, destined for the throne, who will destroy evil, save his people, and bring peace, forever peace to the whole land, the whole universe. Listen to Isaiah’s prophecy about this king who would come: 

 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.”  

 

God Himself, recorded by Isaiah, says in chapter 42 that Jesus will “bring forth justice to the nations,” but “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” So this season we anticipate the arrival of the promised King who would bring true, lasting, transformative justice to the nations, to the whole world, without destroying the weak, the ones who feel like a reed bruised and ready to break, like a candle ready to be snuffed out – this King came to bring justice for them, justice for you. 

 

How, you may ask? How does Jesus bring justice? As the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, his Justice has both a historical/personal element, and a future/universal element. The historic/personal view is the one that sees how Jesus, the bringer of justice, willingly submitted himself to shocking injustice and gave his life up to save us from our own crimes committed against God. And by faith in Him, God, the just king, can now look at us as completely perfect in Christ, justified. And during Advent, it’s good to reflect on the coming of Jesus to bring that justification. But also, we look forward to his second Coming – when the King of Kings will ride in on his white horse with the fearsome armies of heaven arrayed behind him, trumpet sounding, to destroy any and all remnants of evil and bring never–ending peace and justice to this universe forever. And we’ll sing Joy to the World, the Lord is Come, let earth receive her King!

 

And the coming of that day reminds us of our need to confess our sins. Pray with me.

Prayer of Confession

Father, as we are reminded of the day of justice coming soon, and the justification you purchased for us at the cross, we recognize how often we fail to live in light of each of those realities. We put our hope for justice completely in political parties, economic systems, friends, or bosses. This is idolatry, and it is a great evil. 

 

We also know that you call your disciples to follow you. To do justice as we walk humbly with you. Father, we have participated ourselves in injustice of various kinds, of favoritism, bias, and unfair treatment of others. Father, we know that if we the church regard sin in our hearts our prayers will be ineffectual, so we confess our individual sins to you now. 

 

Father in heaven – thank you for Jesus – for our King that came to bring Justice to our very souls, as well as the entire universe. Help us to long for your arrival and to put our hope where it belongs. Give us grace to do the work of justice on this earth now, and would you make your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.