So You Asked for A God Of Justice?
I work best in noisy pubs where the music is pumping, groups of friends are toasting each other and there is a game on the wide-screen telly, preferably after drink or two under the belt. So to prepare to stand-in for my pastor at bible study, i was at Three Crowns Booze & Grub (facebook. 26A Lorong Mambong, Holland Village), putting away a bit of lamb stew and a glass of Little Yering Pinot Noir 2009 (ripe stone fruit on the nose, slightly peppery, but strangely short finish), and working on Malachi 2:17 – 3:18.
God declares his love for Israel (Malachi 1:2), only to be scoffed at by his beloved. Israel then goes on to accuse God of some pretty nasty things:
- that God is not good or just (they say,”All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17)); and
- that God either doesn’t see or doesn’t care if you do good, so why not just do evil (they say,”It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape” (Malachi 3:14-15))
- you claim to want a God of justice? Well, I am a God of justice. But the problem for you is that there is no one amongst you who is righteous, not one who seeks after God. So when the God of justice comes, no one can endure the day of his coming, no one can stand when he appears. He will come near to judge them and be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, those who defraud labourers of their wages, who oppress widows and the fatherless, and deprive foreigners of justice, because they do not fear God. (Malachi 3:2-5)
- you claim that there is no use obeying me because I don’t care or won’t remember? I will remember those who feared me and count them as mine on the last day when everyone else will be judged; I will remember those and spare them from my wrath, so that the whole world will see there is a distinction between those who serve God and those who do not (Malachi 3:16-18)
God has not changed – he is as he has always been: a God of justice and a God of mercy, who knows all things and remembers all things, and deals faithfully with those who are faithful to him.
Man has not changed either. We still claim the high moral ground over God, saying there is no God or no good God because of all the injustice we see in the world. We can make these accusations either as an arrogant armchair critic in an intellectual sparring session, or in midst of deep agony like that experienced by Elie Wiese in Auschwitz (as narrated in Night), but God remains the same.
Naturally, this requires a reference to Georg Frideric Handel’s Messiah. Here’s the lovely countertenor, Andreas Scholl (ignore the visuals):
But Who May Abide The Day Of His Coming
But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap
Handel’s librettist then rightly makes the connection between the coming of the Lord (and other prophesies about a coming messiah) and the birth of Jesus:
And He shall Purify (Malachi 3:3)
And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
Behold, a Virgin shall Conceive (Isaiah 7:14)
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (Isaiah 40:9)
O thou that bringest good tidings to Zion, get thee up upon the high mountain; O thou that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah,
Behold your God!
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.