Justice

Not everything that is right is sweet. Not everything that is righteousness makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Good and evil are not synonymous with comfortable and uncomfortable. Often, evil is pleasant. Frequently, justice (and even mercy) are terrifying.

Sometimes, the righteous and holy action is stomach churning.

This is the story of Gibeon fight-
Where we smote the lords of the Amorite;
Where the banners of princes with slaughter were sodden.
And the beards of seers in the rank grass trodden;
Where the trees were wrecked by the wreck of cars,
And the reek of the red field blotted the stars;
Where the dead heads dropped from the swords that sever,
Because His mercy endureth for ever.

(The Ballad Of The Battle Of Gibeon: G.K. Chesterton)

I think Christians don’t read the Old Testament enough. We seem to gloss over the idea of Justice. We have become so obsessed with mercy that we fail to see that mercy is meaningless unless justice cries out for punishment. Another way to say this is that it seems we forget the Law in our rush to discuss the Gospel. But that fails us, as the Gospel’s power to forgive is in relation to the Law that condemns. We pay lip service to the fact that the God of the Old and the God of the New testaments are the same, eternal, changeless God. But it seems that the reality of the situation is sometimes sidestepped.

Was God wrong to slaughter the Amorites? What a ludicrous question:

‘By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death. … he that dies this year is quit for the next.’ (Henry IV… you know who…)

Anyway, back to reading for my Old Testament class….

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2 responses to “Justice

  1. You remind me of something Fulton Sheen said: Mercy and misery are two things which should never be separated. Misery without mercy is despair; mercy without misery is presumption. The first denies God’s ability to save, and the latter the need to seek God’s mercy. The sad thing about the modern age is how we suffer from both equally. I remember that Professor Jackson said that the cry of the repentant man in the OT is “Who knows?” We know we deserve punishment, and we know that God is merciful; so we ought to repent and hope for the mercy we do not deserve.

    I’ll have to read that poem of Chesterton’s. Is it as good as The Ballad of the White Horse?

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