“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him and He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth. And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” (Isa. 42:1-4)
Everyone seems to be crying out in the streets these days, and what exactly are they crying out for? Justice! I think the perfect verse for most Christians concerned with where our country is headed today would be Habakkuk 1, “How long, O Lord, will I call for help and You will not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence,’ yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me. Strife exists and contention arises, therefore the law is ignored, and justice is never upheld for the wicked surround the righteous. Therefore, justice comes out perverted.”
I believe the reason we are hearing so many, and varied, voices is justice is a matter of individual perspective. Justice is subjective. Justice for the pro-abortionist is for the woman and her body, while justice for the pro-lifer is for the unborn child and his/her very existence. Justice for the socialist is for those who don’t contribute to society, while justice for the capitalist is for those who do. Ergo, justice for the one seems criminal to the other and vice-versa. If that is so, it would seem justice cannot possibly be accomplished.
Not only do we fail to agree on what justice is, most can’t agree on the best way to dispense it, this also being a matter of perspective. Most think the best way is through police and other authorities, but there is a growing element of society who want to do away with that and try something else, or to cease dispensing societal justice at all. There is a growing segment of the population who believe in anarchy, each person dispensing justice as they see fit with no centralized authority whatsoever. What most would agree upon, however, is the way we handle these differences is to spend the most money advertising our cause, or cry out more loudly in the streets than our opposition by holding more rallies, posting more posts or screaming the loudest during our arguments. Unfortunately, that same group that prefers anarchy over centralized authority also believes physical violence to be the way if the volume of their voices fails.
So, both the definition of justice and how to dispense it are subjective and matters of perspective. If we can’t get people to agree what justice is or the best way to dispense it then what, by definition, is justice? How do we bring justice to earth? Once again it comes down to which kingdom we embrace and live for. While chaos in the kingdom of man, largely due to a widening perspective over basic beliefs in right and wrong and therefore what justice means, now arises exponentially Jesus brought the kingdom to earth and is always the answer to how we operate within it. Inasmuch as His perspective is truth, we who follow Him have no such quandaries as to either what it is or how to bring it. Therefore, those in the kingdom can know peace in the midst of the world’s chaos. In Isaiah 42 above, it is prophesied exactly how Jesus would bring justice, and it’s a far cry from the thinking most, on both sides of the political aisle, would embrace.
Three times in this passage the word justice is used, and it is in reference to justice on earth. The passage begins with Jesus obviously described, claiming He will bring justice to the nations. Sounds great, right? This sort of stuff about Jesus causes many Christians to say to all those they think are evil, “You may not see it now, but boy is our dad coming to kick some booty and our dad is way bigger than your dad!” And while that is true, for greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, the next line in the passage presents a curve ball to the way many who profess faith want to go about seeing justice done. “He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street.” Whaaa? “How do we possibly get justice if we don’t stand up, call out evil, and speak out against it?” is the cry of many in the church today. Those who feel that way simply, and sadly, don’t understand the kingdom of heaven on earth Jesus died to bring them.
The greatest injustice of all time that brought about the greatest justice of all time [the reconciling of man and God] was the false accusation, kangaroo courting, and crucifixion of Christ. And what does the Scripture say of His reaction to it throughout, when He had abundant opportunities to “cry out and raise His voice” over the injustice as so many are exhorting the church to do today? “He was led as a sheep to slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent so He does not open His mouth” (Acts 8). In the kingdom of man show, force, and volume are the way to get what you want. Not so in the kingdom.
The way to confront injustice in the kingdom is always the same: faith and trust in the King of that kingdom, which yields peace in those who do. That King, according to Isaiah 9, is known as Prince of Peace and His government is called “the government of peace.” Interesting what it says right after that, “to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness.” There’s that word “justice” again, and again tied together with peace and not with crying out more loudly than the next guy in the streets.
In a like manner, we see well-meaning Christians gearing up to go out and fight spiritual battles. I confess I fall into the category at times, until God shows me verses like these and reminds me of exactly how He wants me to do battle and in which kingdom He wants me to keep the fight (Eph. 6:12-13). We envision ourselves descending upon the earth in that army behind the white horse with the Jesus of vengeance mounted thereon, wielding His sword. While I believe that day will certainly come, it will be after we are called home from this earth. It is not now, nor how we are to fight now. I have often written until the King on the white horse comes, we serve the Carpenter on the cross. In fact, that Jesus isn’t the One who is fighting this battle on earth today, for the Scriptures tell us who is fighting this present fight: “And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16).
And so, when we get the urge to lash out, cry out, or take to the streets to march for justice in this world, we must remember we are not of this world and neither is our King nor our kingdom. Ours is a kingdom full of justice, brought to us by the One who silently yet powerfully calls us to peace in the midst of chaos, not to be a part of the chaos. In these days ahead the lines will be drawn ever-more clearly between chaos and peace. Those who choose chaos will be crying out louder and louder in the streets. Those who choose the kingdom will find a peace through it all the world cannot faintly comprehend. Jesus calls us out of the former and into the latter, where there will always be a justice the chaos cannot overcome. That justice is, as the Writer of Hebrews proclaims, “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” and it feels no need whatsoever to enter into the fray. It only trusts in the God of peace, the Prince of peace, and the Spirit who brings peace into our hearts. Oh, and by the way, that verse in Habakkuk 1 solicits this response from God, “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished and wonder! Because I am doing something in your days, and you would not believe if you were told.”
He’s got this. Shalom, my brothers and sisters. Shalom!