Scripture: Isaiah 10:1-4
“I have so much shame. I feel hopeless. I just sit and wait to die.”
These are the words of 53-year-old mother of five, Apiyo P. who was raped by four men who, as they raped her, slapped her with the flat side of their machetes and kicked her during the 2007-2008 PEV. Apiyo is one of around 200 victims of sexual injustice interviewed by Human Rights Watch in a shocking report called “I Just Sit and Wait to Die”.
I just sit and wait to die- These are the words of many cases of Injustice in our world today. Evil that has gone unpunished by systems that we have built and trusted to defend us in our time of need. Our National Anthem captures this cry in the 3rd line of the First Stanza- “Justice be our shield and defender”. So what do we say to these victims- no one has been held to account, the country moved on and now we face another election- How are such people to go to the ballot?
Today we look at this difficult subject of Injustice. What are we to do about Injustice, How does God deal with injustice, Can we ever get complete justice on this earth? How can we participate in restoring justice in this country? ‘Can we just sit and wait to die’
But first, have you ever been a victim of Injustice? That despite all due diligence, all truth and all honesty- You still lost the case because you are not a ‘big fish’
The First 39 chapters of the Book of Isaiah Speak strongly about judgment of Nations in Sin. Isaiah’s warnings especially to the Nation of Israel and Judah at that time is intended to purify the people by helping them to understand God’s true nature and message against their religious pretenses. What is summarized as a form of godliness, but corrupt in their hearts.
In the last 27 chapters Isaiah brings a message of forgiveness, comfort and hope should the people turn from their wicked ways. It is in this message of hope that the messiah is also prophesied as the suffering servant and sovereign Lord.
Our reading falls in the 10th Chapter verse 1-4, among many verses that God speaks concerning Injustice.
A very strong, cold, sobering and probably harsh tone of a warning. In this passage Isaiah expresses the heart of God concerning injustice and those who practice injustice. Verse 4 summarizes how harsh it is- But even then after this whole wrath- God’s anger is still not satisfied and His fist is still poised to strike.
But perhaps you are wondering what is injustice? I propose to you that Biblical Justice or injustice is more than about being fair or unfair. These are the terms we use to define justice today and in many ways they fall short and can be easily be subjective.
What is fair to me, may be unfair to another. Our judgment as humans stops at fair and not fair and sometimes is influenced by a lot of things- like emotions, time and our backgrounds. This is what we would call (life- justice not LIFE Justice)
For instance, the typical Nigerian soap opera/movie, creates a scene of “a poor family that was taken advantage of by the rich, their poor daughter falls in love with the rich man’s naïve son. A rich and jealous woman helped by the boys evil mother, creates a ploy to destroy this innocent relationship- The climax is that the poor family suffers either death or poverty”
At this point, the director cannot end the movie, and for many of us- a good ending is when the circumstances have reversed. And in 2 hours the director of the movie is forced to create a harmony for the viewers- by fast tracking – 2 years later where the evil woman is knocked and the poor family now becomes the rich family and the rich family now begs for forgiveness.
This then is how in many ways we define justice or injustice, fair or unfair.
But is this biblical? How are we as believers to see this?
It is even sad that we risk falling into the trap of calling God Unfair- For how do we explain 400 years of those Israelites enslaved in Egypt, or the fact that Abraham had to wait over 90 years to get a child, or that God would allow evil kings to conquer good people, or even more scary- How would God order the destruction of a Nation like the Amalekites, including their innocent women and children, all their herds and even ask prophets to behead their Kings. This is a great struggle if we are to understand God as Just.
Job found himself in this place feeling that God was unfair to him – He was righteous and God fearing, why would God allow such misery on him to happen. God responds out of the Storm
Job 38:2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge, Brace yourself like a man, I will question you and you shall answer me…
We will not appreciate how harshly God deals with Injustice if we do not know what it means or have a skewed image of what Injustice is.
So what then is Biblical Justice- How different should we understand injustice as believers? Why was God so angry at the injustice?
Injustice is going against God’s Standard. It is when we treat others below the standard God has set. God’s standard therefore becomes Law. When we say God is Just, we Mean God is Law. He is the standard of which we are to see or treat another human being.
God’s Law is good and God’s Law is perfect. If I may remind you in the 10 commandments that treating anyone any less than the standard God has put amounts to Injustice.
It is even greater sin, because Injustice is like calling God’s testimony of someone as false in a court of law. It is like crashing God’s constitution to replace with your own.
This is grave sin, this is what the children of Israel were being warned about. Injustice in their community was a sure sign of stepping on the boundaries of the covenant. Someone was taking the law into their own hands and becoming a Lord over others. This was Punishable.
So what does injustice look like today – How are we going against God’s standard?
When we rob fellow human beings their God given/Divine rights to be called Humans. God summarizes it simply as “Do unto others what you would like to be done to you”
When we deprive the poor- When we capitalize on the poor to make ourselves rich. Business that thrive by others staying poor, when we underpay/compensate those who work for us? Our house helps and workers.
When we prey on the less unfortunate (widows and orphans)- When we compel the widow to sell all they have at below fair price so that we can make a kill or as some cultures do- wait for the rich brother to die and come sweep their house clean.
Or when we sit in those policy making organizations and seek only to further our interests. Like changing the constitution to cover our sins, our greed or our selfish interests.
But perhaps even worse is the injustice in the area of False Testimony.
We enjoin ourselves in Injustice, when we fail to speak truthfully on behalf of others or when we speak falsely about others. When we take Oaths and Vows that we know we do not intend to keep or we have other ulterior motives- that is injustice.
It is injustice to the people to falsely take up public office, or enter into marriage or business or any kind of human partnership with insincere motives. It is injustice to your partner.
This kind of Injustice has brought great trouble in our country. God says ‘I will send disaster upon you’
This injustice is why God said to Cain after he killed his brother Abel “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground”
So how does God respond to in-justice- Simple Nahum 1:3 “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in Love, He will not let the guilty go unpunished.
No matter the present circumstances, No one will breaks God’s standards and gets away with it. It may appear so for a while but sure enough God’s Law will eventually break you.
In Exodus 34:7 He will punish even if it means up to your 3rd and 4th generation. Could it be that you are storing up God’s wrath for yourself and generations after you? Could it be that you are suffering the wrath of God for injustices of your forefathers- This then is the place to seek God’s mercy and absolve us.
God does not work in our time, He is not limited to 2 hours like the Nigerian movie director- His justice will eventually come, like for the children of Israel in his time 400 years he answered and in the fullness of time, He will avenge our cause. We may not even be there to see it, but be sure everyone will give an account before God the Sovereign Judge.
So let it go on record- we may never achieve complete justice here on earth, but in God’s time He will complete what He has determined. This is our confidence as believers.
This does not mean we sit back and wait to die- This actually means we fight even if /till we die. We fight what goes against God’s standard. It is the way of the cross.
Let it not surprise you that a big reason Jesus died is because he spoke out against the injustice and oppression of his time. They were even willing to pay 30 silvers to have his head.
To those oppressed by injustice- The enemy would like you to get bitter with God, bitter with everyone, bitter with yourself and like we said- sit down and wait to die.
But our confidence is in a Just God as the Psalmist says
Ps 121- I lift up my eyes to the Hills where does my help come from- my help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and night
Though weeping and sorrow may last for a night- His joy comes in the morning
Listen to how he concludes in Isaiah 25:1-4 (Read)
What then shall we do? (Pray) Psa 139:23-24
Questions for Study
1. Have you ever been a victim of injustice? How and when, what did you do about it
2. What are your thoughts about seeing complete justice on earth versus waiting for eternal judgment
3. What forms of injustices do you see around and how would Jesus in you respond, are there areas of repentance for you
4. Read the passages in Ps 140:12, Isaiah 25: 1-4, Psalm 121:1-8. What comfort do you draw from these scriptures?
5. Are there ways you can participate in confronting injustice in your community on behalf of others e.g. Policy making, Legal assistance.
Next week we look at the reverse side- Justice, how does God bring about Justice.