Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The LORD is a God of Justice (Isa. 30:18)

Isa. 30:18 caught my attention this morning. The nature and necessity of divine justice has been on my mind because I've been lecturing on the biblical teaching regarding election and predestination.

What stirs debate in theological circles generates only praise from inspired writers of Scripture: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ, e.g., He chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him, having predestined us in love to adoption as children through Christ to himself" (Eph. 1:3-5).

In Isaiah 30:18 Isaiah describes Yahweh to rebellious Israel: "Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself/rises to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him."

That sent me looking for other OT texts connecting justice (mishpat) to Yahweh. Three texts stood out to me: "the Lord loves justice" (Psa. 37:28), "I, Yahweh, love justice and hate robbery" (Isa. 61:8), and "I am the LORD who practices lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight" (Jer. 9:24[H 23]).

All the while I'm looking at these texts, Romans 9:14 is sounding in the back of my mind: "Is there injustice with God? God forbid!" Paul could have responded, "God is sovereign. He can do anything He wants," or even, "God is sovereign. He could choose to do anything, and it would by definition be just." And some, it seems, think that is what he says in Romans 9:15-21. But that cannot be what 9:15-21 mean if Romans 9:14 is understood.

There is such a thing as injustice, and it is unthinkable that injustice could be found in God. Thus there are things that God in His infinite sovereignty could not do, for they would be unjust. Yahweh's love for and delight in justice ensure that all his dealings with His creation will fully comport with His revelation of justice.

What does God say justice is? and what is the relationship between divine justice and human culpability?

More on those questions, hopefully sooner rather than later, but for now ...

I rejoice that Yahweh's love for justice and His love for me intersected in His self-propitiation on my behalf (Rom. 3:25)!

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