Righteousness and Social Justice
©September 7, 2009 Asher Intrater
One of the main themes of the Bible is righteousness. One dimension of righteousness is that we repent of our sins and do what is right. A parallel dimension of righteousness is that we are cleansed of guilt by the atoning blood of Yeshua (Jesus).
These two “halves” of righteousness can be seen in Abel, who was the first “righteous” man. He was righteous because of the blood sacrifices that he brought before God.
Hebrews 11:4 – By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.
He was also righteous because of his good deeds.
I John 3:7, 12 – Let no one deceive you. He who does righteousness is righteous.
Cain was of the evil one and murdered his brother. Why did he murder his brother? Because his deeds were evil and his brother’s deeds were righteous.
We need to see both sides of righteousness. Believing in blood atonement without a demand for repentance and right actions is deception; attempting to do good deeds without the intervening grace of God is vain.
Righteousness also comes in a third dimension: social justice. Social justice is extremely important in the Bible, and is often ignored by modern preachers. Social justice is determined primarily by judges in the courts. The foundational rule of social justice is very simple: convict the wrongdoers and acquit the innocent.
Deuteronomy 25:1 – Approach the court that the judges will judge them. They will justify the righteous and condemn the wicked.
If the biblical principle of justice is so simple – convict the wrongdoers and acquit the innocent, so is the biblical principle of injustice simple as well: convict the innocent and acquit the wrongdoers.
Proverbs 17:15 – He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, both of them are an abomination of the Lord.
Moral justice is a foundation of the kingdom of God. David was chosen by God to be king, not only for his faith and psalm-writing, but for his righteousness in running the government.
II Samuel 8:15 – David ruled over all Israel and David did justice and righteousness for all his people.
The mistake can be made on either side. We can be too “light” on criminals, or we can be “condemning” of those who have not done wrong.
In Israel today, five major government leaders are under criminal charges: Former Prime Minister Olmert is being indicted; current foreign minister Liberman is under investigation; former president Katsav has been charged with sexual abuse; two cabinet members, Benizri and Hirshzorn, went to prison this week.
Some would say that the federal prosecutors are “head hunting”, trumping up charges to attack these leaders for political reasons. Others would say that corruption is finally being purged out of the government. In either case, a new “fear” of being caught for corruption is certainly spreading throughout the Israeli political system.
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